Thursday, March 31, 2005

Nothing to say Today

Really, nothing.
I'm too busy doing the school thing, the mommy thing and the church thing.
Raining cats and dogs this morning (meow! woof!) and I don't want to get wet.
Writing a sermon outline using Acts 5 for a stewardship sermon (Give! or God will strike you dead!). An assignment, I assure you.
I did find something interesting -- a person who is collecting Minister Blogs (Pastor Blogs).
Only three women on the list, that I could count, so I encourage you women pastors out there to join.
Also, if you are United Methodist and haven't joined the Methodist list, I would encourage you to do so.
I reached an all time high of hits last week, but very few comments. Guess I'll go eat some worms. =o)
(Oh, wait a minute, that was Martin Luther -- he did say that his Diet of Worms was hard to swallow....)

Totally random day

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Odd Juxtapositions

Johnnie Cochran "If it doesn't fit, you must aquit" has died of a brain disorder.

Johnnie Cochan donated $1000 to Jesse Jackson's campaign fund last March.

Jesse Jackson is praying with Terry Schivo's parents, while Terry fades away 12 days after her feeding tube was removed.

The very Catholic Pope may be getting a feeding tube and some say he is close to death.

The very unCatholic, but conservative, Jerry Falwell is critically ill with pneumonia, is on a ventilator and some say close to death.

Jerry Falwell founded Liberty University in 1971.

Liberty University had Zell Miller speak on March 9.

Zell Miller *may* be a democrat (debatable).

Johnnie Cochran was a democrat, but never, ever donated to Zell Miller's campaigns. Full circle, sort of.

The Voice of Thomas

I was ready to die for him. The last few weeks of his life were hard to understand. We had gone back to that place where John had been baptizing disciples when Mary, Lazarus’ sister sent word that Lazarus was ill. When Mary sent for Jesus, I was ready to go and die for him. But instead Jesus raised Lazarus – and angered the ruling Jews.

I was ready to die for him. Yet when the temple guard came and arrested him, we all scattered like roaches hit with a strong light. We just ran away.

After he died that awful day, we gathered in the upper room and sat in stunned silence. What were we to do? Jesus! Why did you leave us?

We were scared. We went out one at a time to gather news and food. The city was a frightening place to be.

Once when I had gone out, the rest of us had gathered together, but had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus, how do I say this? – They told me later that Jesus came into the room and stood among them, and said, "Peace to you." He showed them his hands and side. I heard that they became excited and jumped up and raced around. Jesus said again “Peace to you.” He them added, “Just as the Father sent me, I now send you.” And then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

When I got back they told me, "We saw the Master." I think all the blood rushed out of my head – I felt like I was going to faint. I didn’t know what to think. I had pinned all my hope on this man – I was ready to die for him. I said, "Until I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won't believe it." And that was that.

Eight days later, we were all together in the room. Jesus came right through the locked doors, stood among us, and said, "Peace to you."

Then he looked at me right in the face and he said, "Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don't be unbelieving. Believe." Me! A Jew! Was he dead or not? Could I touch him?

I held out my hand– I was shaking and I said, "My Master! My God!" And at that moment, I knew! I knew he was God! All my life I had been repeating the Shema --
“Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One….. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand…” What was this he had in his hands, in his flesh? My master and my God! He is God’s Word made flesh!

Then Jesus said, "So, you believe because you've seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing." He is God! It’s not that I was ready to die for him, he was ready to die for me! Sh'ma Yisrael Adonai Elohaynu Adonai Echad. The Lord your God is One! Hallelujah!

John 20:19-31 -- Translation used was "The Message" by Eugene Peterson

Monday, March 28, 2005

Monday, Monday

Does anyone else remember that song?

Monday, Monday
So good to me
Monday morning
It was all I hoped it would be
Oh, Monday morning
Monday morning couldn't guarantee
That Monday evening you would still
Be here with me

Monday, Monday
Can't trust that day
Monday, Monday
Sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh, Monday morning you gave me no warning
Of what was to be
Oh, Monday, Monday
How could you leave and not take me

My Mondays are usually "sleep late and take it easy" kind of days.
They usually aren't Manic Mondays, but occasionally Stormy....

The eagle flies on Friday, on Saturday I go out to play.
The eagle flies on Friday, on Saturday I go out to play.
Sunday I go to church, where I kneel down, lord and I pray.

Then I say, "Lord have mercy, won�t you please have mercy on me.
Lord, oh lord have mercy, yeah, won�t you please, please have mercy on me.
I�m just a-lookin� for my sweet babe, so won�t you please send him home,
Send him on home to me."

Just sitting here, listening to music, letting God love me. What are you doing this Monday?

Saturday, March 26, 2005

I wept in Chapel on Thursday

I wept in chapel on Thursday. Big awful slow drippy tears. I tilted my head back and let them flow from the corners of my eyes onto my shirt. I don’t really experience worship much anymore, since I am usually participating in the worship service in some small way. But in chapel, I can allow myself to experience worship. I wonder if experience is the right word – maybe the word is encounter or even, dare I say, feel worship. I know it’s really not about me and what is happening is to be about God and not man, but the feel of the spirit moving and rustling can be missed if we are not intentional about it and recognize it when it begins to stir.

So I go to chapel to just be. To just exist and dwell in the presence of God, without the busy-ness. But it is hard to leave that busy-ness behind. It was Maundy Thursday and I went to see if I could pick up any pointers. It was sparsely attended and there was no sermon listed, only foot washing and communion. I was going to sing but they didn’t need me particularly. I had almost decided to not go, but there were a couple of people I knew going in and so I wandered in – just to take notes. I almost was too busy.

The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him.

It was a quiet contemplative service, based on a Taize model. The theme was “Take up your Cross.” I sat by myself, halfway back, in the first of the “real pews.” I had a friend who is encountering difficulty with his calling come and sit with me. He has been struggling with the phrase “take up your cross.” When the theme was announced he took a sharp intake of breath and sat straight up. I began to feel the Presence. Ah, Lord I know that all things come from you.

… and knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God…

We sang a hymn, “Wondrous Love” – What wondrous love is this? O my Lord, O my Lord? We prayed. The scripture was read.

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

I sat still and dwelled in the Presence. My busy-ness began to drop away like crusty scabs and the half-healed wounds were exposed again, fresh skin raw and hurting in the air. You see, my busy-ness covers up my wounds, protects them, so that I do not have to feel that pain. I sat raw and tender in the Presence and let the words flow like salve over me.

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord--and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”

Shonda sat as she read these words. No sermon, but the Word itself. After she finished, we sat a while. Then Bishop Woodie White came out of one of the back pews, knelt before Shonda and began to wash her feet. I don’t know if you know Bishop White. He is a giant in my eyes. A true disciple, a man of God. A man who struggled with civil rights in the 1960’s – a man who misses his friend Martin so badly, he writes a birthday letter every year. Martin the man, not Martin the martyr. Bishop White is man who has been spat upon, trampled over, despised by the white supremacists, and yet embodies the Love of Christ. My tears began to flow and my mouth became dry.

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.

Bishop White knelt for a while and prayed. We began to sing “Jesu, Jesu” but not as a fast paced song, as a dirge almost. Sorrowful and slow.

He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account. Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.

I watched as other people that I admire go forward and wash with humility the feet of others. I watched Dr. Saliers and Dr. Bondi go forward and wash their students’ feet with dignity and humility. I did not go forward. I am more comfortable with washing feet rather than with having my feet washed. I understand Peter’s discomfort. I sat and cried and dwelt in the Presence for a while longer.

Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressor.

I watched and waited and did not go forward. When all was finished, when we had taken communion and the chapel had gone quiet again, I picked up all my bags, my computer bag and pocketbook and my water bottle and my sweater and slung them over my shoulders. And then I pick up my crusty scabs and slapped them back on the raw skin over my wounds and went into the world.

And yet

Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother's breast. On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God.

I went to class, then another class, and then ran to the car, scooted home for a box of supplies, picked up the kids, rushed to church for our Maundy Thursday service. All the jots and tittles were not finished. We have a new worship committee and not all the wrinkles have been ironed out – we have not really meshed as a team yet, but it will happen. There are so many things that need to happen for a good service to be successful – so much work to be done. I got lost in my busy-ness again.

We really were not as prepared as I would wish. We had not rehearsed and I was not able to meet with the staff or committee earlier in the week because of an ill child. It was a lot of rushing around, a few miscommunications, nothing critical, but time consuming and important. There were some irritations-- I felt fractured, disjointed. The clergy gathered and prayed for a moment before the service, but I still wasn’t particularly centered.

We went into the sanctuary and again, for a second time that day, I entered into the Presence.

I read first from John 1.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people… And the Word became flesh and lived among us.

The choir began to sing “Once upon a Tree, so the story goes….” And we began to tell the Story.

Since it was a service of Word and Hymns and I was one of two readers, I was able for a second time that day to enter into Worship. My scabs of busy-ness fell away again and I could feel the Presence of God moving and rustling around us. We had decided that only two of the clergy would wash feet and two of us would not, so that we could serve the bread at communion. Since I wasn’t going to wash feet, I sat in my chair with my eyes closed and listened to the music for a while. During the footwashing, I felt a tug on my robe. It was J – a friend’s six-year old son, sucking his thumb. He pulled me by my hand to the front pew and there were two women there that I care so deeply about, wanting to wash my feet. And I felt the Wind of the Spirit blow over my raw skin. They both knelt in front of me, with J and his 3 year old sister. There were 4 pairs of hands washing my feet – little children hands splashing the water and patting my feet and I heard the words echo.

“Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.' I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

After they were finished, I couldn’t reciprocate because I had to serve communion later. All I could do was to hug them. Little J came up and took his thumb out of his mouth and said “Miz ‘Freesa, I love you.” What could I do? I cried and hugged him back.

Not only my feet, but my heart and hand and head as well, Lord.

I know the feeling of being unworthy. And yet, God loves us. God loves me. Enough to give this wicked busy world His Son.

It was a good service. The minutia of the details forgotten and the busy-ness should be placed in context. It was a spirit-filled service. Friday we gathered again and watched “The Passion” movie. Again I hid behind busy-ness, but the scabs were a little looser, the wounds healing. We stripped the sanctuary and we left the crown of thorns and a single unlit candle. The sanctuary was as dark and cold and still as a tomb. No lights, no warmth. We dwell in that bleakness of Holy Saturday and dispel it on Easter Sunday. On Easter, it truly is finished and we can cry out in Praise to the Great I Am. And our task it to tell others.

Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord, and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it.

Theresa P. Coleman
In essentials unity; in nonessentials liberty; in all things charity.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Long day, long week, more to come and Catblogging

Lenten Lunches over.
Maundy Thursday finished.
Good Friday -- "The Passion" -- Tenebrae done.
Holy Saturday, 6:30 am Sunrise service, 7:00 Breakfast, 8:00 service, 9:30 service, 11:00 service left to go.

And now for something completely different. Here's an ode to a cat. By Data. From "Star Trek: The Next Generation"

Felis Cattus, is your taxonomic nomenclature,
an endothermic quadruped carnivorous by nature?
Your visual, olfactory and auditory senses
contribute to your hunting skills, and natural defenses.

I find myself intrigued by your subvocal oscillations,
a singular development of cat communications
that obviates your basic hedonistic predilection
for a rhythmic stroking of your fur, to demonstrate affection.

A tail is quite essential for your acrobatic talents;
you would not be so agile if you lacked its counterbalance.
And when not being utilized to aide in locomotion,
it often serves to illustrate the state of your emotion.

O Spot, the complex levels of behaviour you display
connote a fairly well-developed cognitive array.
And though you are not sentient, Spot, and do not comprehend,
I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend.

Data, "Schisms"

Here's Little Kitty "loading up"

Thursday, March 24, 2005

By The Way

Did anyone notice that I "came out" and am no longer anonymous?

Thanks for the prayers -- I'm feeling better, but stressed out (just a little, actually). Stressed about the service tonight and tomorrow night. I kept dreaming that people added things to the service "we just thought that the youth band would be so nice right here" and "well, the fifth graders wanted to participate" and that the service ran 2 hours long. What a nightmare!! =o)

I just now noticed that I have arranged the Maundy Thursday tableau to look just like the "Last Supper" by Da Vinci. Guess what image I have over 50 of in my kitchen -- the "Last Supper." Hmmm...... I wonder what this says about me.

Also, I think I am going to spring the 12 buck for email notification for comments. This will be the first time I actually spend money on this blogging habit. A red letter day, this is.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Sick children, chicken soup, running behind

I've had sick children for a very long time -- or at least it seems so. One who has been sick on and off for 6 weeks with a fever, sinus infections. 3 Antibiotics later, she's still sick. Now I have a cold that is lingering, turning into a sinus infection. Not a good time to be sick. Not only do I have school all day tomorrow but also Lenten lunches, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday services, Saturday activities all day long, 4 full blown High Methodist services on Sunday. Not a good time to be ill. The senior pastor's son is not well either -- he has been sick for two weeks and he now has pneumonia. He may go to the hospital tomorrow. Poor kid. My prayers go with him.

I am going to make some chicken soup and sit here tonight. I have to go to the church to set up for tomorrow's service, but I think that sitting around in peace and quiet tonight will do a world of good. Chicken soup, mmmm.....

And I have been (deliberately) slack today. So many things not done -- important stuff, urgent stuff. But if I get sicker, I sure won't be any good for anything else.

It is Friday -- An invocation and poem for Good Friday

It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.

Nothing can be said, nothing can be done.
Action is futile – hebel.
I can hold the other's hands and weep, but I cannot be comforted.

It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.

The air is heavy still with waiting and longing.
Waiting for the inevitable, longing for the impossible.
Can this cup pass from me?
I look around me – all the colors are muted.
Dusty browns and grays – Cold and metallic.
Rolling black clouds cover the brilliant blue of the sky
As my soul is occluded by pain.
All that remains is the red of the blood
Running down the weathered wood of the cross.

It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.

I reach out and touch the raised grain of the wood.
It is rough against my fingertips.
The pong of unwashed wool and bodies crowds my nose.
I smell fear, pain, death. I taste it at the back of my throat.
I hear the labored breathing from the cross.
Death is near.

It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.

Remember Him!
Remember Him as the silver cord is severed, as the golden bowl is broken.
Remember Him as the pitcher is shattered at the spring and the wheel broken at the well.
Remember Him as the dust returns to the ground it came from and
His spirit returns to the God who gave it.

It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.

The Time of the Cups -- for the end of the Easter Vigil

The time of the cups is passed --
I have drunk the cup of Elijah -- His time is come and gone
And I want to know if truth will penetrate my soul
As the truth of His being has intensified my longing.

I have drunk the cup of our last meal -- Dark and sweet was the wine
He fed us with affliction, he slaked our thirst with abandonment
Bitter was the betrayal of one who loved Him.
His skin purpled with rage as he bent over to kiss.

I have drunk the cup in the garden -- it tasted of gall
A deep dark drought. The will of God!
It tasted of ashes -- Harsh medicine
For a creation overwhelmed with brokenness.

I have drunk the cup of the cross -- the blood and tears
Misery and suffering streamed out and
Ran down the rough wood. I gathered
It in the cup of my flesh as the blood stained my hands.

I have drunk the cup of sorrows -- the cup weightless
Strange was its’ color and
Filled with vapor that evanesced into a melancholy nothingness
It reeked with a miasma of the grave.

For three days I drank nothing -- for three days it were if I were dead
It was a fast, yet the time passed slowly
Never had a Sabbath existed with such conflicting tensions


On Sunday, I taste the cup of holiness
The cup of salvation is lifted up and I drink deeply of it.
The cup overflows with light and
It fills the void in my soul
I lift my heart in thanksgiving to the God who gave it
Precious was the night of cups, the day of sorrows
Precious in the sight of God is the death of His faithful son
Yet more precious still is the life
For through His pain can we begin to be healed,
Through His sacrifice can we be made pure and
Through His rising we can be made complete.
Hallelujah! Come Lord Jesus!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Listening to Mary

I have the sermon today for our community Lenten Lunches. I was assigned to talk about Mary the Mother. I decided to go with a first person voice. I have interwoven scripture into this monologue, it is from "The Message" by Eugene Peterson. Let's listen to the voice of Mary for a while.

I have kept a treasure box since I was a young girl
It in were treasures that I would take out, hold in my hands,
worry over, pray over and ponder deep and hard

I kept a treasure box since before I was betrothed to Joseph.
While I was a young girl, I put in it small bits and pieces,
A Shell I picked up in the middle of a desert
A feather from one of the doves my parents sacrificed at Temple
A rock I picked up on the road to Jerusalem at Passover the year I became of age

But the real treasure is here. I keep my treasures in my heart. Locked up tight – I take them out and look at them and think – I take them out and hold them in my hands and pray that their rough edges don’t cut too hard, too deep.

My mother named me Mary – people say that it means “bitterness” but an old rabbi once told me that my name came out of Egypt, from the sister of Moses and that it means “beloved,” like David means. And I have been beloved.

I was a very young girl when my father betrothed me to a much older man. There is a deep sadness among the people of my time. A sadness we don’t often speak aloud. Wives often did not live through the birth of their children. Sometimes a man would have 2 or 3 or 4 wives before he built a family. Our world was a harsh one, a hard life under an oppressive empire. What did the Romans know from us Jews? Hmmm? Men sometimes didn’t live long either. There was always the threat of rebellion or war. Or they wore themselves out building Romans cities.

I was just a young girl when my father betrothed me to Joseph. I knew him, well really I knew of him. He was the town’s carpenter – a different sort of builder than you think of as a carpenter – he build with both stone and wood – a tecton we would say in the Greek. A skilled man, a righteous man, an upstanding member of our community. I had seen him around the village – he was strong and old and I was to marry him. We talked a few times. It wasn’t going to be too bad.

And then I had a visit – from an angel of God. His name was Gabriel and he said:,
“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
I was shaken up, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured me, "Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.

He will be great,
be called "Son of the Highest.'
The Lord God will give him
the throne of his father David;
He will rule Jacob's house forever--
no end, ever, to his kingdom."

Maybe they should have called me Sarah, because I felt like laughing.

"But how? I've never known a man."
The angel answered me ,
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
the power of the Highest hover over you;
Therefore, the child you bring to birth
will be called Holy, Son of God."

Me! To have a child!

Then the angel said "And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months' pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God."

What was I to say?
"Yes, I see it all now:
I'm the Lord's maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me
just as you say."

Then the angel left.

I didn't waste a minute. I got up and traveled to a town in Judah in the hill country, straight to Zachariah's house, and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard me say Hello, the baby in her womb leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out to me.

And I thought of Miriam and her song and I sang: “My Soul Magnifies the Lord”

I stayed with Elizabeth for three months and then went back to my own home. Two unexpectedly pregnant women – one too young and not yet married, and one old old married woman with a mute husband – well, God works in mysterious ways.

And I wasn’t the only one to be visited by an angel. Joseph was visited by one as well, so that he would take me as his wife. We traveled to Bethlehem that year, and Jesus was born there. I know that you know that story. Angels, a star, shepherds, wise men. What you may not know is that I kept all these things to myself, holding them dear, deep within myself. Deep inside the treasure box of my heart.

When he was 8 days old, we went to Jerusalem and to the Temple to offer a sacrifice. There was an old man there, Simeon by name, a good man, a man who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him. As we brought Jesus to him to carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took Jesus into his arms and blessed God:

"God, you can now release your servant;
release me in peace as you promised.
With my own eyes I've seen your salvation;
it's now out in the open for everyone to see:
A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations,
and of glory for your people Israel."

Joseph and I were speechless at these words. Simeon went on to bless us, and said to me
"This child marks both the failure and
the recovery of many in Israel,
A figure misunderstood and contradicted—
the pain of a sword-thrust through you--
But the rejection will force honesty,
as God reveals who they really are."

And I put those words in my little treasure box. Simeon’s words haunt me. Failure and recovery – the pain of a sword-thrust -- not just the pain of Eve, but that of a sword thrust. Heavy heavy words for a mother to carry in her heart.

When we finished everything required by God in the Law, we eventually returned to Galilee and our own town, Nazareth. There my child grew strong in body and wise in spirit. And the grace of God was on him.

Oh, and he was strong in spirit.
Every year we traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. When he was twelve years old, we went up as they always did for the Feast. When it was over and we left for home, we Jesus behind in Jerusalem, but we didn't know it. Thinking he was somewhere in the company of pilgrims, we journeyed for a whole day and then began looking for him among relatives and neighbors. When we didn't find him, we went all the way back to Jerusalem looking for him.

The next day we found him in the Temple seated among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. The teachers were all quite taken with him, impressed with the sharpness of his answers. His father and I were not impressed; I would call it upset and hurt.

I said: "Young man, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been half out of our minds looking for you."

He said, "Why were you looking for me? Didn't you know that I had to be here, dealing with the things of my Father?" But we had no idea what he was talking about.

So he went back to Nazareth, and lived obediently with us. But I held these things dearly, deep within myself. And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people.

Things began to change for me – by the time Jesus was in his 30’s and had started his ministry, I was alone and stayed at home quite a bit. We still were invited to things around the village.

There was this time when there was a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus and I and his disciples were guests also. When they started running low on wine at the wedding banquet, I told him, "They're just about out of wine."

Jesus said, "Is that any of our business, Mother--yours or mine? This isn't my time. Don't push me."

Well, I went ahead anyway, telling the servants, "Whatever he tells you, do it."

He went ahead and turned the water into wine that afternoon – even though he scolded me it wasn’t his time. This act in Cana of Galilee was the first sign Jesus gave, the first glimpse of his glory.

It was the end of his time with me. I didn’t really enter into his life again until almost his last days. I went to Jerusalem with him – almost thirty three years after he was born. Thirty three long years of listening and remembering Simeon’s words. My nephew John was dead by then, beheaded by that evil man Herod.

That last week was a week of loud noises and conflict. He rode into Jerusalem like a king – he upset a large number of people with his teachings and the ruckus he made turning over tables Jerusalem during Passover is so tumultuous. The Romans are edgy, the Sanhedrin is nervous. And Jesus talked like he was going to die. And he did. All the things that I had stored in the treasure chest of my heart came back to me, as I stood there, next to the cross. I took each memory out and dwelled in them, holding them in my hands. Gathering my memories to myself. Ah, God! If only I could .... ! I cried, I screamed out until my throat was raw -- but to what avail?

I dwelt in my memories. I remembered Joseph, the surprise of an angel, two pregnant women, the trip to Bethlehem, the joy of shepherd contrasted with my quiet deliberations. How he claimed his heritage in that Temple in Jerusalem “Don’t you know I would be about my Father’s business.” I remember the water into wine – I remember the hurt when he looked me in the face and said “who is my mother, who are my brothers?”

I don’t know what I can say – you don’t really understand unless you have watched your own child die. It was a sword through my heart. Failure and recovery? Later I will join the other women in finishing – we didn’t really prepare the body when we had closed the tomb – the Sabbath was approaching. We will get someone to roll the stone away. And for the last time I will bathe his body and I will anoint it with spices and aloes. I took out two of the gold coins that I had saved from the Magi – Friday I put them on his eyes. I will take the frankincense and myrrh that I saved as well and smooth it on his limbs. You know, Friday, the day he died was also 33 years from the day that the angel visited me. I saw and experienced the beginning and the end. I so believed in him! He was my beloved son! I loved him so much! Why didn't God mark him with his love, instead of marking him to die?

I remember him reading from the Wisdom of Solomon – he thought the word were about Him – and maybe they were.

I also am mortal, like everyone else,
a descendant of the first-formed child of earth;

and in the womb of a mother I was molded into flesh,
within the period of ten months, compacted with blood,

And when I was born, I began to breathe the common air,
and fell upon the kindred earth;

my first sound was a cry, as is true of all.
I was nursed with care in swaddling cloths.

For no king has had a different beginning of existence;
there is for all one entrance into life, and one way out.

Therefore I prayed, and understanding was given me;
I called on God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.

Wisdom of Solomon 7:1-10

Questions: Who is Mary to You?
What truths about Jesus do you hold in your heart? What do we ponder? What is necessary for “pondering?” Do we remember the special experiences we have had with God and Christ and the Holy Spirit? How often do we take them out and ponder on them?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Palm Sunday

Today is the day to collect your palms to make palm crosses.
Here are some instructions. I will take digital pictures this afternoon, as my children and I go into major cross-folding mode and post them. If you want, email me using my email link under my "profile" and I will send you my address -- if you send me a SASE, I will give you a handful. I use them as bookmarks in my Bible, as a reminder of how the glory of Palm Sunday is so rapidly swallowed up into the sorrow of Good Friday, as Christmas Tree ornaments and then I burn them on Ash Wednesday and apply them as ashes during worship. They go from flexiable to dry and brittle, which represents to me what can happen to Christians if we are not intentional about staying fresh and alive in the Word of God.

I also remember my friend V, who died 3 years ago on Palm Sunday in a car accident. V was the person who taught me how to make them. I will never forget him. I wrote about him here.


It's later. Here are some pictures. I hope they help. Click to enlarge.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Google Speed Test

This was amusing.

The Google Speed Test: "The Google Speed Test

I scored with
90% accuracy and 100% speed!

In my age group
I scored higher than 75% on accuracy
I scored higher than 75% on speed

I am in Conflict Today

Do any of you remember about Karen Ann Quinlan? Her legal battle was back in 1975 and was one of the very first "right to die" cases (at least it was the one who set a lot of the legal precedents of such cases.) I remember the anguish of that time. Karen Ann was removed from the ventilator, but did not die until 10 years later in 1985. There are excerpts of her case here.

In it is stated:
The doctor found Karen 4 days after her incident "comatose with evidence of decortication, a condition relating to derangement of the cortex of the brain causing a physical posture in which the upper extremities are flexed and the lower extremities are extended. She required a respirator to assist her breathing....Dr. Morse testified that Karen has been in a state of coma, lack of consciousness, since he began treating her. He explained that there are basically two types of coma, sleep-like unresponsiveness and awake unresponsiveness. Karen was originally in a sleeplike unresponsive condition but soon developed "sleep-wake" cycles, apparently a normal improvement for comatose patients occurring within three to four weeks. In the awake cycle she blinks, cries out and does things of that sort but is still totally unaware of anyone or anything around her."

In other words, she did not respond to stimuli, she did not track motion or movement. She did not laugh or attempt any communication. Her feeding tube was not removed, the ventilator was removed and she died in 10 years after contracting pneumonia. There are more websites of interest:

Brain Death and Brain Injury Resources
On Death and Dying
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation

Last week, a member of our congregation passed away after he and his family had made the decision for no heroic measures to be attempted. I personally signed the DNR for my father two days before he died. I have a living will and my husband has a Power of Attorney for Health Care for me, and I one for him. Heroic measures were used on my mother, without my knowledge and to no avail. What is the most disturbing about Terry Schiavo is 1) is it truly her wish? Her husband testified that they had a "conversation." What does this really mean? and 2) in some of the videos I have seen, and in my uneducated humble opinion, she does not seem to be in a persistant vegatative state. It appears in some of them that she is laughing *with* her father, responding to music, following objects with her eyes -- I have seen some students in special needs classes in my previous career as a teacher who seem less aware than Terry. Should we allow these persons to die as well from starvation and dehydration? Is the cognative ability of a 12 month old "good enough?" Or a two year old? or 5 year old? Where do we draw the line?

I don't want heroic measure taken on my behalf, if there is little or no hope. However, how much of my cognition do I have to lose before I lose "quality of life?" This is just too disturbing. I have watched the videos and I am disturbed.

God, forgive us. Allow us to affirm life and not deny it.
LORD, look down from heaven, behold, visit, and relieve this thy servant. Look upon her with the eyes of thy mercy, give her comfort and sure confidence in thee, defend her from the danger of the enemy, and keep her in perpetual peace and safety; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, March 18, 2005


I have finshed planning our Tenebrae. We will be showing "The Passion of the Christ" and then holding our Tenebrae around 11:00 pm on Good Friday. I am going to time the service, we may cut the music to one congregational hymn and we will be singing them very plain. There will be no background music. We will make room in the front of the Sanctuary near the altar rail if persons wish to lay face down in front of the altar. The Sanctuary will be in purple paraments, there are six candles (purple votives) arranged around a crown of thorns, with a small pascal candle in the center. The altar candles and all 7 candles will be lit. The altar cross will be draped in purple. When the service is finished, almost everything will be draped in black and there will be nothing but a crown of thorns left on the table. On Saturday, we will cover a cross with flowers and drape it as well. The black drapes will be removed and everything will be brought back on Easter morning. Blessings.

Tenebrae, A Service of Shadows

O come and mourn with me awhile;
O come ye to the Savior's side;
O come, together let us mourn;
Jesus, our Love, is crucified.

Have we no tears to shed for him,
while soldiers scoff and foes deride?
Ah! look how patiently he hangs;
Jesus, our Love, is crucified.

How fast his hands and feet are nailed;
his blessed tongue with thirst is tied,
his failing eyes are blind with blood:
Jesus, our Love, is crucified.

His mother cannot reach his face;
she stands in helplessness beside;
her heart is martyred with her Son's:
Jesus, our Love, is Crucified.

Seven times seven he spoke, seven words of love;
and all three hours his silence cried
for mercy on the souls of men;
Jesus, our Love, is crucified.

O break, O break, hard heart of mine!
Thy weak self-love and guilty pride
his Pilate and his Judas were:
Jesus, our Love, is crucified.

A broken heart, a fount of tears,
ask, and they will not be denied;
a broken heart love's cradle is:
Jesus, our Love, is crucified.

O love of God! O sin of man!
In this dread act your strength is tried;
and victory remains with love;
for he, our Love, is crucified.

Words: Frederick William Faber, 1849


A Word of Pardon
Luke 22:27-34 Extinguish Candle #1 Remove Stoles and Paraments drape Pianos and Baptismal Font with black
As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30Then “ ‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” 31For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
(drape pianos and Font on the word “cover”)
32Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals–one on his right, the other on his left. 34Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[e] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. (remove paraments and stoles at the end)

Choir – “Zion’s Daughter Weep No More” from Hymns Ancient Ancient & Modern, 1861

A Word of Assurance
Luke 23:39-43 Extinguish Candle #2 Remove Bible
35The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.”
36The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
38There was a written notice above him, which read THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
40But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don't you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
43Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”(remove Bible at end of reading)

“Ah, Holy Jesus” UMH 289

A Word of Compassion
John 19:25-27 Extinguish Candle #3 Remove Offering Plates and Banners
25Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.(remove offering plates and banner at end)

Handbell Choir

A Word of Anguish
Mark 15:33-34 Extinguish Candle #4 Remove Altar Candles
33At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (remove Altar Candles now)
35When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he's calling Elijah.”
36One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

"O Sacred Head" (Verses 1-4)

A Word of Suffering
John 19:28 Extinguish Candle #5 Remove Chalice and Paten,
28Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”

A Word of Victory
John 19:29-30 Extinguish Candle #6 Remove Cross and cover Stained Glass
29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (remove cross)

A Word of Release
Luke 23:46 Extinguish Candle #7 Remove Pascal Candle, remove all extinguished candles
44It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. (remove candles now)
47The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Choir – “A Wind Blew Over Calvary”

Leave in darkness and silence


I have found several people who participate in Friday Catblogging. So here we go. This is a picture of my two old kitties (my tortiseshell passed away a few months ago). They are 17 and 15 years old in this picture. We got of picture of them on my youngest daughter's Lion blanket, as they were always lyin' around the house.

The Time of Ashes

I wrote this a couple of days before Ash Wednesday and I don't remember why I didn't post it. So here it is as we begin our journey toward Palm and Passion Sunday, Holy Week, Jerusalem, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. There is still time to participate in Lenten Disciplines, but the time is fleeing.

The time of the ashes has come.
They are dark and gritty against my skin.
Oily and caustic they are drawn with a fingertip lightly.
Yet they burden me with their weight.

The time of the ashes has come;
Joy has ended.
The cost of estrangement is growing
The regret of things not said and done
Has overtaken me.
Damn you God! How dare you be silent!
I can only pray with clenched teeth.

Hate overwhelms me,
My anger consumes me,
My antagonist overtakes me,
But he wears my face.

The time of the ashes has come.
The altar is calling me and beguiling me and rips at my soul.
How long oh God?
How long will the desolation be?
How long will my tears be dammed?
My God! The heaviness of my heart cannot be borne.

Yet God is found at the ash heap
God finds me as I scrape at my sores
With the shards of my own brokenness
piercing the boils and tearing my own flesh.
And the blood runs freely down mingling
with the drifting ashes
a black unholy snow.

God is always at the ash heap
Mourning His lost and corrupted creation
crying the tears I cannot.

"Create in me a clean heart oh God.
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy Presence,
and take not thy Holy Spirit from me."

Ok, I bit the bullet and

added Haloscan commenting and trackback. I lost all the old comments, but now at least there (hopefully) *will be* comments.
Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Promised Land

I have discovered yet another way to waste time. It is an online version of the Southern Harmony. Oh, how addictive.

My favorites include this tune called "Restoration" which appears in the United Methodist Hymnal as #340. There are just a couple of the really old shaped-note hymns where the old harmonization is used in our current hymnal.

I also like Wondrous Love but this one, Promised Land always will hold a special place in my heart's treasure box. I will never forget taking communion "inside the square" at an old Methodist Church. It was a wooden structure with no insulation so that the entire building acted as a sound box. There were birds nesting in the rafters on that hot Georgia summer afternoon. There was dust in the air that danced in the golden sunlight. The chairs were set up in a "square" for a singing. The person conducting stood in the center. The shaped note singing is a different sound -- the melody is carried by half the sopranos and the tenors and is called the "treble" -- the sopranos mostly sing harmony. It's a haunting sound, minor and the pacing and tempo is a driving beat, with strong accent on the 1st and 3rd. We took communion in the center of the square, one at a time, by intinction, with the sound of this ancient hymn beating and swirling around us and in us. "I am bound for the promised land, I'm bound for the promised land, O, who will come and go with me? I am bound for the promised land."

I used this hymn sung by the Alabama Shaped Note Singers as the background music for a film I did last year on Communion -- it is so ingrained in my soul as a Eucharist hymn. A song of Thanksgiving.

I worked it into the background music for our Maundy Thursday service. The principal accompanist and I just finished scoring the music to play in the background as the passion narrative is read. We are having a "Last Supper" tableau in the background with music and scripture, footwashing and communion -- the music is going to be continuous, with several hymns to be sung by the congregation and two anthems by the choir.

So much to write, so little time! All that's left right now is a sermon for Monday's Lenten Lunch and an exegesis paper for Tuesday.

A Posting by Jay

Only Wonder Understands:: Writings by Jay Voorhees

Jay talks about the signs of hope that exist in our church. And he lists all the reasons I love Candler. I dislike Candler sometimes, too. It's a really competitive place. You can either see the competition as discouraging (Columbia is a kinder and gentler place) or invigorating. And I have experienced it as both. And Candler is a collection of communities, rather than a community itself. I had Ayres and Bondi -- not Mallard and Bondi and I would *love* to have a discernment retreat with LTJ. But I have had good experience with Alice Rogers. And I really, really enjoy the homelitics classes. Tom Long is wonderful as is Fred Craddock (even though he is retired, he continues to inspire). As much as I love the NT and OT classes, the Preaching is wonderful.

There are signs of hope. There is much I find wrong with our denomination -- and I don't think it is benefical to enumerate. But there is still signs of life. People are still in dialogue -- even people from red counties and blue counties. All long as we remember who we are and whose we are, we approach the Holy with humility and we remember the Great Commandment, there will always be signs of hope.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Daisy Marie Hit Me With a Stick

1. You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be? The Gospel of John – my memory is too short for the entire Bible.

2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? Yes, D ’Artagnan in “The Three Musketeers.” Ooo la la.

3. The last book you bought was...? Bought a bunch so far this month
“Paths to Prayer” by Patricia Brown (incredible speaker and writer)
“Testimony” and “The Witness of Preaching” by Thomas Long (one of my favorite preachers ever, I want to TA his Intro to Preaching next semester)
“The Stupidest Angel”
“Island of the Sequined Love Nun”
“Brother to a Dragonfly”
“The Lord’s Prayer through North African Eyes” by M.J. Brown (cool dude, always available for conversation)
“Nick the Cat” by Roberta Bondi (cool dudette, I loved being one of her TAs)
“Revolution in the Valley”
“Creed” by LTJ (I might have a crush on him)
“The Preaching Life” by BBT (ditto)
“The New Interpreter’s Bible Volume XII”
several of these were purchased to give away

4. The last book you read was...? just finished “Island of the Sequined Love Nun”

5. What are you currently reading? “Paths to Prayer” in my bedroom, “Brother to a Dragonfly” downstairs, “Testimony” is in the kitchen, a Ron Allen book “Patterns of Preaching” in my briefcase, “Fluke” is next to the bathtub, along with “Reaching Out without Dumbing Down.”

6. Five books you would take to a desert island?
Just 5?? Maybe 6 or 7??
The Bible (New Interpreters, maybe) and/or my Interlinear.
Craddock’s one volume commentary
Gerald Manley Hopkins one volume collection of verse.
My combined Thayer’s and BDB Lexicons
Strong’s or Young’s and lots and lots of notebooks to write in.
Complete works of Shakespeare
What a Geek I am!!

Monday, March 14, 2005

I dreamt of Fire

I dreamt of fire again last night.

I was standing in the basement doorway
Of an ancient mountain lodge,
Gazing at the verdant green of the deep forest.
The summer rain was gentle
And the overhang of the porch above sheltered me.

I sensed a flash of light and warmth from behind.
Turning I saw the room in flames.
My hair floated around me in the rising heat.
The fire licked and danced and curled
The fire raged but did not consume.
Its delicacy belied its inherent power.

There was Peter
There was Augustine
There was Julian and Teresa of Avila
There was Martin Luther and Martin Luther King
There was consumed my half-finished manuscript on the desk and
There was nothing left of my dreams but drifting ash.
My attempts to put out the flames were futile.
They danced away mockingly only to burn the very water I threw.

As suddenly as they appeared, the flames evanesced.
There was no damage except my manuscript.
The aftermath brought me to focus on the water and the flame.
The burning brought into greater contrast the writing on the walls
And colors were brighter and stronger
Their witness burned my eyes.

On this day I too am to burn.
I am to live in this post-Pentecost world.
What will this mean for my life?
Who will write the manuscript now?
On this day I am to discover Him,
With love I found Him,
And with His love, I will serve.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Positive Words

I need some positive words today, so I think I'll give ya'll some.

Here's some positive words:
accomplished, admirable, attractive, capital, certified, champion, choice, choicest, desirable, distinctive, distinguished, estimable, exceptional, exemplary, exquisite, fine, finest, first, first-class, first-rate, good, great, high, incomparable, invaluable, magnificent, meritorious, notable, noted, outstanding, peerless, piked, premium, priceless, prime, select, skillful, skookum, sterling, striking, superb, superlative, supreme, tiptop, top-notch, transcendent, wonderful

adored, beatified, consecrated, divine, enthroned, exalted, glorified, hallowed, holy, inviolable, redeemed, religious, resurrected, revered, rewarded, sacred, sacrosanct, saved, spiritual, unprofane

all-powerful, almighty, ambrosial, angelic, anointed, beatific, beautiful, blissful, celestial, consecrated, deific, deistic, eternal, exalted, excellent, glorious, godly, hallowed, heavenly, holy, immaculate, magnificent, marvelous, mystical, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, perfect, rapturous, religious, sacramental, sacred, sacrosanct, sanctified, spiritual, splendid, superhuman, superlative, supernatural, supreme, theistic, transcendent, transcendental, unearthly, wonder

angelic, believing, blessed, chaste, clean, consecrated, dedicated, devoted, devotional, devout, divine, faithful, faultless, glorified, god-fearing, godlike, godly, good, hallowed, humble, immaculate, innocent, just, knee-bending, moral, perfect, pietistic, pious, prayerful, pure, revered, reverent, righteous, sacrosanct, sainted, saintlike, saintly, sanctified, seraphic, spiritual, spotless, sublime, uncorrupt, undefiled, untainted, unworldly, upright, venerable, venerated, virtuous

 august, awe-inspiring, ceremonial, ceremonious, conventional, devotional, dignified, divine, formal, full, grand, grave, hallowed, holy, imposing, impressive, magnificent, majestic, momentous, ostentatious, overwhelming, plenary, religious, reverential, ritual, sanctified, stately, venerable

Saturday, March 12, 2005


I think I will write a quiz to see why I am addicted to quizzes.
Anyway, I probably match my Denomination 95% -- I actually match "Orthodox Quaker" 100%.
I thought I was finished feeling my oats.....

1. Orthodox Quaker (100%)
2. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (95%)
3. Liberal Quakers (84%)
4. Seventh Day Adventist (75%)
5. Unitarian Universalism (71%)
6. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (68%)
7. Eastern Orthodox (60%)
8. Roman Catholic (60%)
9. Hinduism (53%)
10. New Age (48%)
11. Mahayana Buddhism (46%)
12. Reform Judaism (45%)
13. Bahá'í Faith (44%)
14. Taoism (42%)
15. Theravada Buddhism (42%)

Try it here at the Belief-O-Matic.

Then I tried What kind of Christian are you?

And I am on the cusp between Bishop Spong Christian (a.k.a. "Biblical Revisionist") and Hillary Rodham Clinton Christian (a.k.a. "Left-Leaning Traditionalist"). Funny that parts of both are true. I would have said "moderate radical neo-orthodox fundementalist emergent" but that wasn't on the list.

Bishop Spong like: You believe in God as a loving creator and that She will forgive you for just about anything. You go to church for the sense of community and the music and because you like to hector your fellow Christians about their backward ways. You read Toni Morrison, Elaine Pagels, and Bishop Spong, the controversial Episcopalian prelate. You enjoyed the "The Da Vinci Code" as a thriller and found its ideas about Christian history thought-provoking, if not always historically accurate. You live in a leafy university town, order Chai at the local coffee house (never Starbucks). You watch TV so you can talk disdainfully about how bad TV is. You give to charity, preferring the local homeless shelter to those bureaucratic national charities. For you, the crux of Christianity is Jesus' revolutionary message of empowering "the least of these."

Hiliary Rodham Clinton (except I really don't like the moniker very much) like: You think the Bible is divinely inspired, and you say Jesus was the Son of God. You admire Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day, Bill Moyers, and the Dalai Lama. While watching "The Passion of the Christ," you cried during the flashback when toddler Jesus fell and Mary ran to him, (yes, I did) but many other parts of the movie bothered you. You eat boneless chicken breasts, organic produce, and designer ice cream. You talk a lot about the value of community. You ardently support gay rights. You believe the surrounding culture is polluted and blame it on big corporations. The power of Christianity for you is the sense of community and the emphasis on love, forgiveness, and helping the less-fortunate.

Then I read the George Bush Sr. list and related to some of those statements, as well.

I really am somewhere between these. I hate boxes and I hate being put in a box. Leftist/liberal? No, I prefer inclusive and radical (Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin radicalis, from Latin radic-, radix root meaning to procede from the root, or relating to the origin, marked by a considerable departure from the usual or traditional, tending or disposed to make extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions, advocating extreme measures to retain or restore.) Yep. I like the word radical. After all, Jesus was radical.

Friday, March 11, 2005

I'm Evil!

**** THE PROOF THAT reverend mommy IS EVIL ****

82 69 86 69 82 69 78 68 77 79 77 77 89 - as ASCII values
1 6 5 6 1 6 6 5 5 7 5 5 8 - digits added
\_________/ \_________/ \_________/ \_________/ \_/
3 4 7 8 8 - digits added

Thus, "reverend mommy" is 34788.

Subtract 1977, the year Elvis left the planet. The result will be 32811.

Turn the number backwards, subtract 1983 - the year Microsoft introduced Windows 1.0. The number is now 9840.

Subtract 2191 from the number - this is the year Titanic went for its first and last voyage, written backwards. It gives 7649.

Turn the number backwards, and add 1945 - the year Mussolini was executed for the first time. The number is now 11412.

Subtract 1531, the year Richard Roose was conveniently boiled to death for trying to poison an archbishop. The result will be 9881.

This number, read from right to left, is 1889, or the year Adolf Hitler was born.

No further questions. QED.

Found here.


So. Very. Tired.

Long day yesterday. Listened to 13 sermons -- gave two myself -- total of 15 sermons. Wow.

I had position 9 and 15 -- I had to go last. I felt anxious. I have never felt that type of anxiety before. Wow.

Now I'm tired. So very tired.

Took a quiz (what a surprise!)

You are Pedro; you make my wildest dreams come
true. You are, in essence, my idea of the
perfect day.

brought to you by Quizilla

Wow. What a surprise. I thought I was Barth, a dead white German male theologian. I'm Pedro, a young hispanic dude who makes Jeremy's day. Who knew? I knew my brain was male, but really. Then what does that dream about not finding the right color of lipstick mean? I think I need a Avon Lady.

I am now going to indulge in reading Blogs, eating chocolate and drinking coffee, listening to *my* music (anyone with a pre-teen will understand that comment), reading books that are not on my assigned reading list and going for a walk when *I* want to go. And there might be other indulgances ahead like baked potato soup with cheese and bacon, more chocolate and Netflix.

Later, dudes. (to quote the aforesaid pre-teen)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


First, how aware are you of poverty?
Belief Net has this quiz.
I received a 9 out of 15. Not as good as I would have thought.

Secondly -- what theologian are you?

"We reject the false doctrine that the church could have permission to hand over the form
of its message and of its order to whatever it itself might wish or to the vicissitudes of the
prevailing ideological and political convictions of the day."
You are Karl Barth!
You like your freedom, and are pretty stubborn against authority! You don't
care much for other people's opinions either. You can come up with your own fun, and
often enough you have too much fun. You are pretty popular because you let people have their
way, even when you have things figured out better than them.

What theologian are you?

A creation of Henderson

What! Barth! No way!

Monday, March 07, 2005


Martha's Musings: Trust Walk Blogger comments not working. Sigh. Martha blogs on dizziness and food today. It's interesting how much we tie food into our churches. Yesterday, I must have eaten 6 or 7 times. New member b'fast. Donut between services. Lunch with the "Day of Service" committee. Snack (*big snack*) at Disciple class. Snack at Pastor's house. Dinner with family. Snack at evening Disciple class. Funny, I'm not hungry at all today.... Maybe we need the United Methodist Church of the Dieters. We go for walks instead of eat. Water bottles instead of coffee and tea. Carb-free communion elements.

My Favorite Polar Bear needs a box of Girl Scout cookies, some hot tea and quiet music. Introverted?? I think that's a maybe, but very people oriented.

Preacher Mom is in the midst of toddler blues. I know that she knows that it's a phase/stage of life -- good for you for taking a mental health/baby day. You go, girl! I'm taking a Monday. Yeah!

reverend mother is into the hair thing today -- hair and the Oscars, no doubt. Also is enjoying toddlertime. An important thing -- I'll share my thoughts on wiping the slate clean when I finish working it out in my head.

Hoosier Jane Ellen is proud of a black belt earned by her husband. And has some wonderful thoughts on guitars and lectionary. Thanks.

Fish is dreaming dreams -- wonderful, big dreams. Fish, they sound so good to me. They feel good. We'll pray and dream together.

Matthew is thinking about Easter/Christ and the Bunny and is decided to leave the bunny out. Me too. My kids get candy on Easter, but I stress the sweetness of God's love for us and the sweetness of His Word. Sweeter than honey! He also contemplates gossip and prayer requests. As the keeper of out email prayer chain, it always surprises me when I get requests like "pray for my husband and best friend as they commit adultery and cheat on me" and then gives specific details. How easy it is for us Christians to pervert something sacramental and sacred into something sordid.

My good friend Michael is still answering questions. I can just see you in a plaid suit and missing teeth -- are you sure that there's not a cowlick in the picture, too?
I didn't know you didn't belong to a congregation. Hmmm... I have mixed feelings about that -- first, if everyone just "did church" at home, I'd be out of a job. Us Methodist types put lots of emphasis on "christian conferencing" which can look like lots of things, but you really are missing out on the snacks. Especially that communion snack thing. Not big in volume, but long on substance. =o)

jfreeman -- hey, thanks. It came and I am reading. Send me your address (snailmail) and the girls in green will send something. I am sure you would like samoa. =o)

I'm outta time -- I have to get my girlies. I didn't get around to half of my dailys. St. Casserole, Field of dandelions, Rev Ref, Rev Mike, Real Live Preacher, anj, steph, bobbie, Praying Mantis (my poetry fix), Progressive Protestant, jo(e), jon, Rev Bill, Barbara and more. I'll have to do it later. Maybe by that time, blogger comments wil work......


Martha's Musings: Trust Walk Blogger comments not working. Sigh. Martha blogs on dizziness and food today. It's interesting how much we tie food into our churches. Yesterday, I must have eaten 6 or 7 times. New member b'fast. Donut between services. Lunch with the "Day of Service" committee. Snack (*big snack*) at Disciple class. Snack at Pastor's house. Dinner with family. Snack at evening Disciple class. Funny, I'm not hungry at all today.... Maybe we need the United Methodist Church of the Dieters. We go for walks instead of eat. Water bottles instead of coffee and tea. Carb-free communion elements.

My Favorite Polar Bear needs a box of Girl Scout cookies, some hot tea and quiet music. Introverted?? I think that's a maybe, but very people oriented.

Preacher Mom is in the midst of toddler blues. I know that she knows that it's a phase/stage of life -- good for you for taking a mental health/baby day. You go, girl! I'm taking a Monday. Yeah!

reverend mother is into the hair thing today -- hair and the Oscars, no doubt. Also is enjoying toddlertime. An important thing -- I'll share my thoughts on wiping the slate clean when I finish working it out in my head.

Hoosier Jane Ellen is proud of a black belt earned by her husband. And has some wonderful thoughts on guitars and lectionary. Thanks.

Fish is dreaming dreams -- wonderful, big dreams. Fish, they sound so good to me. They feel good. We'll pray and dream together.

Matthew is thinking about Easter/Christ and the Bunny and is decided to leave the bunny out. Me too. My kids get candy on Easter, but I stress the sweetness of God's love for us and the sweetness of His Word. Sweeter than honey! He also contemplates gossip and prayer requests. As the keeper of out email prayer chain, it always surprises me when I get requests like "pray for my husband and best friend as they commit adultery and cheat on me" and then gives specific details. How easy it is for us Christians to pervert something sacramental and sacred into something sordid.

My good friend Michael is still answering questions. I can just see you in a plaid suit and missing teeth -- are you sure that there's not a cowlick in the picture, too?
I didn't know you didn't belong to a congregation. Hmmm... I have mixed feelings about that -- first, if everyone just "did church" at home, I'd be out of a job. Us Methodist types put lots of emphasis on "christian conferencing" which can look like lots of things, but you really are missing out on the snacks. Especially that communion snack thing. Not big in volume, but long on substance. =o)

jfreeman -- hey, thanks. It came and I am reading. Send me your address (snailmail) and the girls in green will send something. I am sure you would like samoa. =o)

I'm outta time -- I have to get my girlies. I didn't get around to half of my dailys. St. Casserole, Field of dandelions, Rev Ref, Rev Mike, Real Live Preacher, anj, steph, bobbie, Praying Mantis (my poetry fix), Progressive Protestant, and more. I'll have to do it later. Maybe by that time, blogger comments wil work......

Sunday, March 06, 2005

sunday sunday

Long day today. Sundays are always long. I start the day early, 8:00 am worship service and the day isn't over until 10:00 pm. So it's usually a 14 to 15 hour day. Anyone who thinks that the life of a minister is easy just has never tried it.

We had a call at 7:30 am that an 80 year old member of the church had been admitted to ICU -- he died 12 hours later at 7:30 pm. P spent most of the day sitting with the family, as I covered for him at lunch and the the Bible Study at his house and then my usual Disciple classes. The associate was at the spiritual life retreat with the youth and our ministry intern is in Texas for his board of ordained ministry interview. Good worship services, good lunch and good fellowship. We also had my friend who was expecting triplets delivered the babies and all three are over 5 pounds and none had to go to NICU. In the midst of death, God blesses this world with life. We have been praying for both families -- the one who has experienced death today and the one who has experienced life abundantly. What feelings of community I have felt today.

I had to scramble for communion stewards this morning. My good friend Q, who is a retired minister and seminary professor, had a bad PSA and will be having a biopsy. He's around 80 and he is starting to feel his mortality. He is feeling rather blue and didn't feel like serving communion today. I spent time with him in between services, just being there. He is the most humble, caring, spiritual human being I know. And he probably is the most liberal theologian I know of -- in fact he's so far left, I don't even know if he is really still on the field, but also has such a deep spirituality. (For example, he thought that Altizer stated his case mildly) I told him this morning about my dilemma with my interview next week with the board of ordained ministry and he really wants to ride down with me and go to a late breakfast. He is really not the best person to introduce me -- he failed at least 3 of the members of that board (heh, might be political suicide?) but he want to show me his support. (Actually, He wasn't sure if it was 3 or 4 that he failed.) I wonder what grade he would give me, on occasion. (This is the same Q that brings me homemade tofu goodies when I have a sick child... and looks a little like Yoda, except not so green. Hmm...even speaks like Yoda sometimes, he does.) Anyway, he is going to go with me to my interview, even if he does not speak -- just for moral support. Time to lift him up in prayer, tonight. Again, such community I have felt today.

I have been contemplating today that the 4th "We believe" in the nicean creed is the "We believe in the one holy catholic and apostolic church...." The other 3 are about the Father, Son and Holy Ghost (or Creater, Redeemer and Sustainer in gender inclusive language). If the Church is indeed the body of Christ, would it not too have a human and divine nature? If so, it is not the human part of the church that causes such deep ties of unity and community that I have been feeling today. It is only with that divine spark that we build that community.

I have a 3 hour drive to get to a workshop tomorrow morning with my other favorite retired professor. He's teaching a preaching workshop. That means getting in at 5:00 am or so (hmm in about 5 hours), so off to bed I go. Good night and God bless.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Ragamuffin Ramblings: Just how shocking is the Gospel?

Ragamuffin Ramblings: Just how shocking is the Gospel?

Wow. What a statement. I changed all the Chicago references into Atlanta references, ECLA into UMC and wow. I sent it to my Disciple classes, who are supposed to be thinking about radical discipleship -- talk about outside comfort zones.

I am now writing one myself about the coffee/donut thing in worship we have been discussing at church. I think I'll stir the pot. Just a troublemaker, am I.


Friday, March 04, 2005


Jesus then said, "I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind." John 9: 39

We are showing "The Soul of the Game" at the house tonight. I hope to have 10 to 20 people here (and hope there aren't many more than that!) It's an interesting little movie. IMDB summary states "Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson are the greatest players in the Colored leagues, and everyone expects that one of them will make the leap to the Major Leagues, now that there is talk of integration. But, unexpectedly, it's the rookie with the army record, Jackie Robinson, that gets tapped to be the first."

We are tying in with this movie the lectionary in John about the man born blind. The real action in the passage occurs not with the man himself -- his replies to his questioners with short little and perhaps timid statements. The mud poultice is an interesting touch -- God (Christ) spitting into the dust of the earth, from where God took man in the beginning and applying the resulting mud onto the man's eyes, healing him. That's interesting. For me, however, it is the discussion about sin and blame and fault and perceived blindness and real blindness and spiritual blindness that is really interesting. Americans allowed all sorts of people to play ball -- Jews, Italians, Mexicans, Cubans, Indians -- all sorts of people -- except for African Americans. There were so many talented players, and yet the ball clubs were blind to the talent and promise of these men. Who was blind? Who sinned?

Today, where are we blind to prejudice? Is it still the handicapped? Is it still race? Is it gender? Is it sexual orientation?

BBT writes "How were your eyes opened? Where is the man who did it? How could he do that? What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes? What do you say about him, since he opened your eyes? Not one living soul says, "Alleluia!" or "Thank God!" No one asks him what it is like to see for the first time or whether the light hurts his eyes. All they want to know is how, who, where and what." (Article found here.

More here about The Jackie Robinson Foundation - About Jackie.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Call

He calls to me in the dark and
I am four and held in the strong arms of my father
We travel through the cold, starry night always together.
The church doors are open and light and warmth
Spill through the open door and I enter into a night

Of pure worship, encircled by my father's arms.
He places me among the bathrobe shepherds
And the tinsel angels that encompass the baby. I understand my
Purpose is to be here, in this light, in this warmth,
Circled in this Presence and together we worship.

I am seven and alone cower in fear in a dark closet.
My transgression is forgotten in the passage of
Time but the fear is not. For the first time I realize that
I share in the estrangement of God and man and that

Sin and judgment are my due. Punishment will follow and
God can see the cleaved face of my fear and I remember
The words of my mother and alone I pray the first time
Asking forgiveness. And I can leave that closet
Of Fear and shame to face not fear and death, only my parents.

I am nine and I plant a grapefruit seed in a coffee can.
I pray to God to see if he can hear me -- I test the Holy
And wait for a response that never comes. No green
Leaves spring forth. All that grows is doubt and

Now I don't know if there is a God. It would be years
Before I understood that without water seeds would
Not grow and sprout and that prayer exists to not live
In a vacuum, that prayer does not change God but changes me
And growth comes from the water of tears.

I am sixteen and shy and alone and alienated from my parents
With the depth of my teenaged angst. I cannot comprehend
Love or forgiveness or acceptance or value. Worth is only
Found in actions. Value comes only from who you are and

I cannot be until I hear the Word in a children's song and
Wonder if the Holy could actually love me. I hear the song of
Salvation sing and He calls to my heart together we
Take being from this and worth, value and I too begin to
Sing love songs together I/we become.

I am twenty and embittered by the word of that loving
Father who at four betrayed me with love. Called to love and
With love for the Holy I try to enter the taboo brotherhood and
Am threatened with disinheritance. I am not strong

Who could be and I reject all that is Holy and good and
Pursue that which is not. Anger and shame are all I can feel and
I run from that Song and reject the call of love to my heart.
I anesthetize myself and shatter against hedonism. The
Echoes of love are silenced alone fractured I become the void.

Over the years the anesthesia wears thin and my embitteredness
Dissipates and I hear again the song of my first love, my Jesus
And He woos me again forgiving all that had gone before and
He makes my spirit young and untouched. He knits together

My fractured bits and the scars are ridged white and my voice is
Rough unpracticed but yet now together we sing
And He calls again to my heart and I am forty two
Not ashamed to be. I am whole with Him. He calls me and
He encircles me with light and warmth together not/alone
And I am


All shall be well

All shall be well
and all shall be well
and all manner of things shall be well.

Many things occuring in the last two days. First, an amazing outpouring of support. I felt truly bouyed by prayer in the last two days and my anxiety has stilled.

Secondly, I found that my friend and senior pastor was being squeezed by the system as well. The committee he chairs had a mandatory meeting called by his superiors. He was caught in the middle as well. He is making good on his promise to assist me -- he is personally talking to several of the members of the Board of Ordained Ministry and actually took one to breakfast this morning. He also found out that he would be allowed in the deliberations, anyway. He reassured me that I am prepared and will do well. My efforts this week will be to focus on articulating my call and my papers.

My humble thanks for the prayers.

I now will call an end to all panic attacks. =o)