Showing posts from 2006

Compassion: Advent 3C sermon

The first time I saw the movie, “The Matrix,” was New Year’s Eve 1999, as we headed into the new millennium. I was struck by the power of this story and its ability to convey a modern day version of salvation and the Messiah. Granted I was less impressed with its use of high powered machine guns despite the fact that those being shot were not real humans but figures playing parts in a computer generated matrix.

The plot is based on the premise that world is no longer real but has been taken over by a form of artificial intelligence, machines. These machines were once human made but eventually became self-sufficient and dominant. took After a long war the artificial intelligence took over the world. An entire species has been spawned by what was once one machine and they have created an alternate reality based on a computer generated world. Having lost the war humans are now born and bred to be the life source, the batteries for the machines. Humans are confined to a weird cocoon kind o…

Make straight the paths, Advent 2C

One of the opening scenes from the movie, “Life or Something Like It,” shows Lanie Kerrigan, played by Angelina Jolie, on her way to work. Every day she passed by a street prophet who stood on a crate, arms in the air, his back arched and head held high while he prophesied, “I see and I say,” proclaimed Jack the street prophet.

One day Lanie, a driven journalist engaged to a football player with the Seattle Seahawks, stopped by the prophet and threw a few coins his basket. She was up for a promotion and really wanted this new job.

Jack the street prophet responded to her coins by telling her that the Seahawks would beat the Broncos 16-13, the next day it would hail in Seattle (a town of mild and temperate weather) and then on the third day she, Lanie, would die.

Of course this kind of prophesy disturbed Lanie. On the other hand she also tried to dismiss it as rubbish.

Still the prophet’s words weighed on her. She found herself examining her life: her comfortable but extremely superficial …

December Deep Freeze

Here in the Chicago land area we are knee deep in snow with temperatures in the teens...and it is only early December. Given that I am recovering from this infection and have PICC line in my arm I am disinclined to walk outside (at not much more than from car to building), for fear of slipping and harming the line. So, I hibernate inside. I ride my exercise bike and do chores around the house and take naps. I look outside and appreciate the beauty of the snow and I look at my still undecorated Christmas tree. I'm not sure how or when I will get to any Christmas shopping since I only have a few hours in between IV antibiotic treatments...maybe I need to hurry up and shop on line...and my poor dogs are going a little nutty being cooped up with only brief trips outside (they too know its cold and aren't thrilled, frozen paws and all)...

So Advent this year is all about being quiet and staying indoors. Its about waiting, waiting for the PICC line to come out (maybe Christmas Day?) …

Friday Five

1) Do you observe Advent in your church? Yes, observing Advent is a big deal in my church because I love it. We change all the vestments to a deep blue (dark night) and use no flowers. In order to enhance the idea of simplicity we put away our silver and use blue ceramic chalices, paten, and cruets. And we hang a large Advent wreath with three blue and one pink candle.

2) How about at home?When our kids were young we observed Advent at home with the lighting of an Advent wreath and some prayers at dinner time, plus we used an Advent calendar to mark the days until Christmas. This year, because I have been very ill with an infection (and hospitalized for 11 days) I feel that I have been in Advent for three weeks already...dark, anticipation, waiting...and now I mark my days around the doses of IV antibiotic I have to give myself 4 times daily. I have decided to ritualize these IV treatments with music (usually Mozart Sonatas) and praying the daily office. Also three of the four times I…

Lord, open our lips

These days my life revolves around two things: praying the daily office and IV therapy. The IV therapy takes about 40 minutes start to finish; cleaning and prepping, flushing with saline, connecting the port in my arm to the port carrying the antibiotic, waiting 30 minutes for the antibiotic to be delivered into my body, and then flushing with saline (to keep the line open and clear) again. Although this process is becoming more routine it still fills me with a bit of anxiety, fear of doing something I strive to make the whole experience peaceful, reflective.

I begin by playing a CD of soft classical music, maybe Mozart. I do the prep and start the IV. Then I open my Book of Common Prayer and pray the daily office of Morning Prayer (5am), Evening Prayer (5pm), and Compline (11pm). My 11am "treatment" I read some reflective piece from the book, "I Have Called You Friends", essays on reconciliation written to honor the ministry of our newly retired Presidin…

Home at last

I have been a healthy person all of my almost 50 years. Yes, I've had the annual cold or flu, but otherwise I've been healthy. Which is why my recent bout with a serious infection from a tooth has given me a whole new perspective on life, health, pain, and grace. Entering into the hospitial nearly two weeks ago via the emergency room I found myself completely at the mercy of the doctors, nurses, and staff. My pain was so great that I was unable to do anything but plead for relief. They cared for me with such compassion, I will be forever grateful. And my husband really stepped up to the plate, both in his care for me and in his multi-tasking to work at his job and are for our house of kids and animals. I was scheduled to be in the hosptial until today, Sunday, while some of the procedures put in place to help me heal did their job. But thankfully this happened faster than anticipated and I was sent home on Friday.

Being home again is such a blessing. Although I have to take it …

In the hospital...Thanksgiving

Ten days ago I came to the emergency room of a local hospital suffering from an infection. The root cause, a tooth. The infection lodged itself between the bones off my jaw and skull and the massiter muscle of my check and blossomed out distorted my face; causing great pain and fever. The hospital tried IV antibiotic therapy for 36 hours before doing surgery to drain the site. That was one week ago today. I continue to heal well, grateful for the skill and care of the doctors,, nurses, and staff, not to mention my family.

As I write this I am using a hospital computer, thanks to the generosity of the nursing staff and residents. Three drains remain in my face enabling the remaining infection to drain out. These are slowly being "advanced" or pulled down and out to facilitate draining in the rest of my face (the infection spread up from my jawbone to my temple). They anticipate sending me home on Sunday or Monday, which will have been two weeks in the hospital. I will go h…

Friday Five: Red, Blue, and Purple

1. Favorite red food: well, since Thanksgiving is around the corner I'll say homemade cranberry sauce. Otherwise tomato sauce for pasta, all kinds!

2. Tell us about the bluest body of water you've ever seen in person: the Caribbean from the southern coast of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Actually it is an amazing blue-green, but so beautiful.

3. It's movie rental time: Blue Planet, The Color Purple, or Crimson Tide? I've only seen the Color Purple.

4. What has you seeing red these days? I've been suffering from a fractured tooth - oh so painful! The dentist filled the fracture, which only caused increased nerve pressure. Yesterday the dentist and I made the tough decision to pull it (YUCK). So while the nerve pain is gone I am left with severe jaw pain from the extraction process. The pain definitely has me seeing red, not to mention my inability to do things like get my sermon written for Sunday. Plus I have to go to our annual Diocesan Convention today and…

A Jigsaw Puzzle Life; an All Saints' Day Sermon

Tomorrow we are transferring to Sunday the feast of All Saints, and I am also transferring the lesser feast of All Souls. I think I read somewhere that the ancient church blended these two feasts in one day...but regardless, I am unable to get folks to come out for anything but a Sunday morning, so into one they are.

My reflection for this Sunday will use an image of a jigsaw puzzle, beginning with how much my family and I enjoy putting them together. Recently my cottage mates at the IMAGINE conference in Kanuga put together a puzzle. This puzzle was a picture of a North Carolina covered bridge, very pretty. But it really seemed that many of the pieces of the puzzle were missing, we almost gave up on it. Over time, and with diligence we put found all the pieces, many were very odd in shape, not at all what the empty space would lend you to think it looked like.

Life is like a jigsaw puzzle: sometimes feeling like a jumbled pile of pieces that seem unrelated and disconnected. Putting the…

From Nomads to Pilgrims

Last week I attended a presentation by Diana Butler Bass on her research and study of churches today. She sees a phenomenon happening in some churches as they emerge from the depths of almost dying to being renewed. She calls this process a journey of moving people from being Nomads to being Pilgrims.

I have read her books, so some of what she presented was not new. But at the presentation she offered a "model" using tinker toys (so funny, so good!) to describe the three-pole socio-cultural-religious movement in our country today; unpacking liberal to conservative, established church to intentional church, and modern world view to post modern world view, and how they all interconnect. This model really gave me language for understanding how some churches are dying and others are growing or re-growing through reconnecting with Christian practices and tradition in a new way. She gave me language to articulate what I have been struggling to describe for years. She helped me unde…

Friday Five Halloween Scary

1. Do you enjoy a good fright? No, I really don't. I refuse to see scary movies. When I watched Silence of the Lambs I saw on video at home so I could walk out of the room when my anxiety got too high....I don't like watching people being hurt, I guess.

2. Scariest movie you've ever seen. Probably Silence of the Lambs, since I won't go see any of scary movies my teenagers like to see.

3. Bobbing for apples: choose one and discuss:a) Nothing scary about that! Good wholesome fun.b) Are you *kidding* me?!? The germs, the germs! I've only bobbed for apples once, when I was a was fun, but who thought of germs back least not the way we do now.

4. Real-life phobia...messing up, not being "smart enough"...yikes, the "girl" self esteem stuff that I still work on sometimes.

5. Favorite "ghost story"...loved to tell and hear ghost stories at camp as a kid, sadly I can't remember any of them. But I could tell you a few experienc…

Friday Five Random Thoughts

Whirlwind - my life some days
Foundation - my faith most days
Lightening - speed of life, summer storms in the mountains
Den - woodchuck then red fox under my deck
Prey - coyote, look out

Approaching 50: reflections on body

Lately I've had to learn to live in a body I do not recognize. This body of mine has always been on the slight side, tending to be chilly at all times. But these days I lean more to being warm and often hot. The other day the "heat" began in my ear lobes and cheeks and moved through out my body. That initial flush eased, but I remained warm for the rest of the night.

I never know how to dress, will I be hot, warm, or cool? Especially with the changing seasons, with fall upon us and winter around the corner....It is just so strange.

But in addition to body temperature I've noticed other flab in places I never knew a body could be flabby, perpetual stiffness, finger nails and toe nails that turn soft yet lined with ridges, worsening allergies, and like I've already said, chin stubble.

I don't really mind all these changes. I knew they'd happen some day. But mostly I feel too young, not at all the almost 50 year old I am. My mother and mother in …


From Sunday Oct. 1 through Friday Oct. 6, 177 women, deacons, priests, and bishops, gathered at Kanuga, a retreat center in Hendersonville, NC, to reflect on the role of ordained women's leadership in the Episcopal Church. The week was filled with panel presentations on various leadership themes, including one with our newly elected Presiding Bishop, Katharine JeffertsSchori who spoke about qualities of leadership:
1. Courage - a quality that can be learned and is a process of spiritual training with the possibility of producing wisdom. A leader needs to have courage.
2. Risk - when you have risked enough and failed enough you learn something about yourself as a leader.
3. Creativity - we are made in the image of God, the creative process can lead to common ground.
4. Playful - a leader needs to be playful
5. Interconnection - a leader recognizes we are all part of a larger whole, all of creation is made by God, God is present in all that is (mystery), creating the Body of Christ.
6. C…

Hiding on Sunday morning

I have taken the day off in order to rest from the family wedding last night (nephew) and pack for my trip to Kanuga for a week long leadership conference for women clergy (leaving for the airport at 2pm). But, because I live next door to the church in the rectory I end up "hiding" out until everyone has left church for the day. Soon they will all be gone and I can take my dogs out for a walk. It is a beautiful day. So far I have spent the morning reading blogs, making breakfast (pancakes and sausage) and reading the paper. (Oh, not mention instead of getting up at 5am, I got up at 8...of course I went to bed after midnight...).

The one thing I don't want is for the members of my church to see me loafing....they know I am going out of town, but if I'm still here during service times then shouldn't I be there leading??? After all I asked one of our lay folks to lead the do a "Morning Prayer" service with no Holy Communion. Someone is bound to…
This morning I am taking a day off. This is my first Sunday off since mid-March. Otherwise I have preached and presided at two services on Sunday and one on Wednesday. I am taking this day off, in part, because we had a family wedding last night and I am leaving this afternoon to go out of town, and it felt that trying to preside and preach at two services would be too much.

Usually I do not go out on Saturday night. Saturday night is a kind of Sabbath time for me, I have dinner, maybe a glass of wine. I watch a little television (usually British comedy or a good movie), and go to bed early. I aim to be rested and prepared for the long Sunday.

So, having a family wedding on Saturday night throws off my whole Sabbath. Actually we did not go the ceremony, only the reception...but that's another reflection...Nonetheless by the time we were ready to leave the reception, and drive my mother-in-law home, it was late. I finally went to bed around midnight. Yes, we had a nice time. But sinc…

Approaching 50: Reflections on Grey

Recently I started watching Grey's Anatomy. This comes after a long time of refusing to watch it based on commercials that emphasize the sexual exploits of these "medical professionals." I am just tired of watching violence and sexual infidelity on TV, not to mention the reality shows (OK, I've never actually watched a reality TV show, except the dancing ones...). So, most of the summer I watched "Whose line is it anyway?" But somehow one night I found myself watching Grey's Anatomy, and for a while I was hooked. Now, I don't know???

One night last week the episode ended with the main character, Meredith Grey, literally standing between the two men she is involved with, one a married doctor and her passion, the other a widowed veterinarian for whom she is his passion. Both were asking her to take her home from this pseudo-prom (you had see the show), and she stood there unable to decide. The next night continues the story, who knows how she got home,…

The Spirituality of Dog Park

One of my favorite things to do is walk my dogs in the dog park. We have two dogs, a lab-mix about 70lbs and a vizsla, about 50 lbs. At first we had only the lab-mix, whom I dutifully walked everyday, until I became a full time priest at this little church. Then her best form of exercise became sitting in the back yard watching the birds and bunnies. About four years later we decided it was time to add to our household (as if two parents and two kids, two cats, 5 birds, and a frog, were not enough). So, we went looking for a puppy and came home one day with a 16 week old Vizsla. She, this new pup, now a dog, is a bundle of joy. If a dog can express "HAPPY" she oozes joyfulness. Walking her, because she is bred to hunt birds (which we do not do), she is prone to springing straight up in the air and spinning in circles. Now, this is a great skill when she is in the tall grasses of an open field, I can see her and she can see me, but it is a bit disconcerting walking down the s…

Not the one called

Last night I learned that a friend of mine, who has been active in a job search, was not the one called. She, a young woman in her mid thirties with two kids, was so excited about this church. I understand, having been in her shoes a few times myself. First you invest so much of yourself into the process, learning all about the people and their ministries. Working hard to make sure you express yourself and your gifts; revealing the depth of your integrity, skill, and compassion. You fall in love. Discerning a call to a church is like entering into a long term relationship, and oh, the heart ache when it doesn't turn out the way you hope.... Those of us in the Episcopal tradition consider a job search to be a call of the Holy Spirit...maybe others think this way as well? So, what is the Holy Spirit conveying when one person is called and another is not? I think that God, given the impact of free-will (oh, what a precious gift!), I think God invests God's self in these searches h…

Approaching 50: reflection on chin stubble

Ok, I won't actually be 50 until February. But I am already thinking about it. My husband, who is younger than I by10 months, will turn 49 in Dec., and then wammo, I turn 50. At this moment, the aspect about turning 50 that most consumes me: those hairs, the coarse stubble growing on my chin.

Eleven years ago, when I started seminary, I first noticed these hairs. One here or there, usually under my chin, an area approaching my neck - almost impossible to pluck those hairs out....Now they grow in clusters on one side of my chin. Coarse and sharp and a bunch of them all at once. I could wax them off, but first I'd have to tolerate their growth until they were long enough to wax....And when I pluck them out more are just waiting to grow in...plucking these determined little hairs is harder than one would imagine. They cling to their little follicles, or what ever it is they "grow" in, and refuse to give up that space. Tenancious little hairs mocking the fact that the res…

September 12

Another rainy, foggy, morning. In some ways I am grateful for the rain, it gives me permission to lay low. After two intense weeks of work, burying a beloved parishioner, and living through our first major parish fundraiser, (what FUN there is in fundraisers, especially when the proceeds are going to help others), life has taken on a slower pace. Time to think. I really enjoyed the fast pace of pulling together the church and parish for these two events. I thrive on having lots of good work to take care of. It can be challenging to me, serving a small parish, where not a lot happens on normal basis. I know I tend to get things going and make myself busy, I could get away with doing a lot less for the church. Maybe then I would clean my house more (yes, that's good work too, most days it just doesn't really interest me)...

Back before all this busyness began, in early August, I was in a job search, a finalist for a BIG place, "The Bigger Pulpit" as the NY Times article…

My first post....

So, here I begin, at least this aspect of seeking authentic voice. Today my 9th grade son and three of his friends came home for lunch, all were discussing the fact that today is Sept. 11. I asked them if they remember this day 5 years ago - wow, they say, we were in 4th grade. That's how they remember it, by their grade. I remember it; we had just lived here a month, I was a new rector at the parish I serve, my first official position in charge. What to do? How to care for frightened people, children, self? We held a spontaneous prayer service that night. We called everyone in the parish, left messages, invited everyone to come and pray. We gathered as community. We cried. We offered hope and faith in the God who loves us. We mourned for innocence and for the loss of innocent lives.