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Showing posts from 2011

RevGals Friday Five: Nearly New Year's Edition

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Roxie, our 13 year old Lab-Red Heeler mix, on the deck, enjoying a wonderful early summer afternoon.

Sally, over at RevGals, offers this Friday Five Meme:

A simple Friday Five for a busy part of the year; indulge me by sharing two fives:

As you look back over 2011 share 5 blessings, they can be as grand or as simple as you like,if you year has been like mine they are probably a mixture!

As you look towards 2012 share 5 hopes- again, anything goes
Five blessings:

1. This new call. I feel very blessed to serve this community of very fine people, who are mindful of God's call to justice, compassion, and love.

2. Family stability. My family has had a rough time over the last couple of years. This year we each found stability. It's nice to enjoy my kids as young adults who are finding their way in the world.

3. Our dogs. Last spring our sweet dog, Roxie, at the age of 13 started to have seizure-like episodes, losing bodily function and the ability to walk. We took her to the vet who…

A Christmas Story

A reflection on the readings for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

A friend of mine is fond of telling a story about her life and then concluding with, “That’s my story and I’m sticking with it!”

The other night my husband, son, and I were watching the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, the version that came in 2000 with Jim Carry as the Grinch. Several times we remarked that they changed the story, a lot, in order to make a full length movie out of it. It is significantly different from the version I saw as a child. Then our son said, this is the only version of the story he remembers. Same story, two versions…

Tom Satre told the following story to the Sitka (Alaska) Gazette: he was out with a charter group on his 62 foot fishing vessel when four juvenile black-tailed deer swam directly toward his boat. “Once the deer reached the boat,’ he said, ‘ the four began to circle the boat, looking directly at us. We could tell right away that the young bucks were distressed.

I opened up my back gate a…

Monday Morning Musings

Sometimes I just have let go. Last week, as if I couldn't get any busier, I did. By Saturday afternoon, when I sat down to write my sermon for Sunday morning, I was completely drained. I managed to write down a skeleton of a sermon and then let it go. Over night the sermon percolated in my thoughts and by morning I realized that I was going to preach without the text, filling out some of the pieces, and only using my iPad for the quote and conclusion. It worked fairly well. Particularly my idea to have all of us sit in silence for a minute or so. People seemed to appreciate that.

Yesterday included two worship services, including one where we blessed items for worship that were acquired from Memorial Gifts. This was followed by the "greening" of the church, a short break, writing my newsletter article, reviewing worship for Christmas Eve/Day, and officiating at a Lessons and Carols performance, led by a chorus from a local community college. It was a performance, not te…

Tender Time

Goodness. Here we are, Advent Four, already!

I find that the season of Advent has flown by – from that first Sunday after Thanksgiving and the Sunday’s following when we celebrated the Rite 13 service and welcomed two young men into adulthood, and last Sunday with the flurry of celebration and activity that always accompanies a Bishop’s visit. Parish life has been full of celebration. It has also been a time of healing and tending to those who are ill. As it happens in life we have had a number of critically ill people this month, thankfully most of them are on the mend. We have E.P., who died yesterday after a long battle with leukemia and Alzheimer’s. All this busy-ness seems inevitable in Advent, a season in which we are called, paradoxically, to be still, to be quiet, to reflect on the various ways we come to know Christ in our lives.

Unexpectedly, I found myself, last night, sitting in silence. No television. No radio. No music playing. Sitting in the living room with the Christm…

Friday Five: The Making a List, edition

Jan, over at RevGals, offers this Friday Five meme:

Ever since I was little, I heard that Santa is making a list and checking it twice. I can see why he has to keep checking it, because there is so much to do before Christmas! Only nine days left, and I don't have church services to plan, but there is much left to be done. My daughter-in-law tells me that she feels behind, which is how I have been feeling.

No matter how organized you are, there must be some things you still need to do. For this Friday Five, tell us five things on your Christmas "To Do" List. Include anything you have decided to skip doing this year. As a bonus, give us something that helps you remember why this season even exists.
1. My shopping is almost complete. I have had a big list this year, although most of my gifts are little "Thank-You's" to people who have done so much for the church and our ministry. I am in the midst of baking, wrapping, and signing cards as part of the thanking …

Monday Morning Musings

I'm recovering today from a lively, wonderful, intensely busy weekend due to the Bishop's visit and the nine people we confirmed. In the Episcopal Church the primary confirmation event takes place at baptism when the priest or bishop dips their thumb in holy oil, makes the sign of the cross on the forehead, and pronounces the person "marked" as Christ's own forever. This action of baptism and confirmation in one ritual recreates the rite from the ancient church. Then, taking into consideration that confirmation has already happened, the church offers an rite for young people and adults, to make a profession of faith reaffirming the statements made on their behalf at baptism.

Although it is not required, I offered a "confirmation preparation" retreat. At this retreat I used a "journal" with questions intending to help us unpack the Baptismal Covenant. So, for example, we reflected on the nature of sin, evil, dignity, justice, and loving our nei…

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: the Random edition....

RevKarla over at RevGals offers this Friday Five:

I don't know about you, but my life seems to have a lot of random surprises lately. Just little things, like the doggy who was rescued by a Good Samaritan from running into traffic, who then brought him to the police, who brought him to my neighbor's house. I took the doggy, now named Scout, to the vet on Monday, and the woman behind the desk said, "This dog looks so familiar. Were you here last week?" I told her no, that this particular dog is a stray, and she looked at me, and said (use your best Boston accent here), "Oh my GAWD! I rescued that dog on Satuhday! I took him to the police!" and then she proceeded to tell me the story. She was Scout's angel.

Random, right?

So, for our Friday Five, I invite you share five random things about you, or five random thoughts, or five random surprises in your life.

Just be random...
1. Lately I enjoy drinking the Yogi brand teas. I am fond of their …

Monday Morning Musings

It's a chilly, rainy morning here. I am sitting by a fire, Bach Adagio Christmas music is playing, the Christmas tree is lit, and the coffee is warm and delicious. I am grateful.

No doubt I am working hard. So much going on at the church! Every weekend brings some significant activity. This Sunday the Bishop will visit, and so we have a confirmation retreat planned for Friday night and Saturday day. I am working on collecting some movie clips to show examples of the baptismal covenant being lived out. We'll make communion bread, with each person bringing some of the ingredients. We have a journal to guide us, some of the work will be quiet, reflective writing, some will be group discussion. We'll share a couple of meals. The following week we are hosting a local choir for Lessons and Carols, and then it's Christmas.

We also three people in the hospital, all in serious condition. Actually they are in different hospitals about 30 minutes apart. I've been to the hosp…

Taking Comfort in Angry Birds and other things that call me to pay attention

One of my favorite games on my old cell phone was Bejeweled – a puzzle game played by matching three colored jewels in a row. I was sad to learn that there is not a version of Bejeweled that will play on my new cell phone, nor on my iPad. So I’ve been on the search for mind games, other than solitaire. Many people recommend the game, Angry Birds. I have resisted this game, mostly because I didn’t like the title – Angry Birds – not wanting to endorse violence, even cartoon violence. So, I refused to get this game. Refused that is until the other night when I found a free version of it, and became instantly hooked on the game – finding it endlessly amusing. Essentially the puzzle offers a tower built of various materials – glass, wood, concrete – and within the tower are pigs, often dressed like construction workers. To the side is a huge sling shot from which one propels birds into the tower. The sound effects include the birds squealing with delight as they fly through the air, a res…

An apprentice to the ordinary

Looking out across the field and yard behind the church, what was once ripe with vegetables, leaves and flowers, the bare trees offer up an open sky and the land lays fallow. Even the ground is cleared of fallen leaves. The garden has been harvested, cleared out, and tilled, so it can rest until planting begins next spring. The grass, still green is heading into its dormant season. I find myself spending less time outside, more inclined to sit by the fire or read in doors than take a walk or ride my bike. Fall is heading straight into winter, and snow is in the forecast.

Personally I delight in the changing seasons. I love that the darkness of night comes early. I feel compelled to bake cookies, drink hot tea, and curl up with a book or a new knitting project. This time of year fills me with anticipation as I wonder what the winter will be like. How many heavy snow storms will we have? How cold will it get? How long will it last. This anticipation comes to me anew every winter with …

Friday Five: Free Gifts, edition

Sally over at RevGals offers this Friday Five:

Following on from Thanksgiving, and picking up the "Black Friday" theme of boycotting the Christmas rush for bargains I thought it would be good to set a simple Friday Five yet one to get you thinking. I am sure that you'll agree that some of the best gifts we receive do not come in fancy wrapping paper but might be the gift of an unexpected afternoon with a friend or coming across a long forgotten photograph, or- well the list is endless...

So take a bit of time to think back over the last year and ponder the gifts it has offered to you, then list five of those gifts, in no particular order- there is only one rule- all of these gifts must have been free, neither you nor anyone else should have spent money on them!

1. A job: not exactly a "no money spent" gift, but the best gift I received this year is a new job, a new call. I have been blessed with a fabulous community to work with - creative, intelligent, energetic…

Monday Morning Musings

Today is the day after. The day after we hosted the Michigan Holiday Alternative Market at the church. Our idea was to invite local vendors from the farmers market, local artists, and craft makers to come to the church and sell their wares.

We began the evening with an Evensong, which is Evening Prayer put to song.

We had 27 vendors come - selling things from handmade dishcloths, handmade gift cards, handmade soaps and candles, hand made sterling silver bracelets and jewelry, hand blown glass jewelry, vases, sculpture, hand made soft sculture (dolls), cheeses, Christmas greens, free range organic turkeys. We also had Creating Hope International (who uses space in our building) sell hand made fabric, lace, ties, purses, bags, made by women in Afghanistan - all the proceeds from those go back to the women, assisting in the education of women and girls.

A local hot dog vendor brought his steam table and served meat, turkey and veggie dogs, with all the fixings including chili. He also…

Eyes, Hands, and Heart, or What it means to have faith with feet...

A reflection on Matthew 25:31-46

Many years ago, on the exit ramp of I-90/94 in Chicago, I encountered a woman with a sign saying something like, “Unemployed homeless mother with three kids. Need food and money.” A car or two stopped and offered money, but many cars drove by without stopping. With my two young children in the car I felt compelled to give her all the cash I had on me, it wasn’t much. I don’t know why I was so moved by this woman, maybe it was the first time I had seen a young mother asking for a handout? I thought of her many times over the years, and wondered how she was, although I didn't see her again for a very long time.

Some ten years after I first saw that woman on the exit ramp of the highway, I saw her again, with the same sign, asking for money. Ten years later and her life remained unchanged. Or so it seemed. I was startled and a bit dismayed.

A few years later a wild woman appeared at the church I was serving. It was during some event and the place wa…

RevGals Friday Five: A Thanksgiving Edition

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Jan, over at RevGals offers this Friday Five:

I've been home from Russia for less than a week, and in less than a week it is Thanksgiving Day in the USA (Nov. 24). So for this Friday Five, answer these questions (and if they don't apply to you, list five things you are grateful for):

1. Where will you be on Thanksgiving Day? With whom? I will be home on Thanksgiving with my husband and our son. We plan to grill steaks and twice baked potatoes, watch the Lions-Packers game, and relax. Then, on Sunday our daughter and her boyfriend will join us and we will have a regular Thanksgiving meal and celebration of my husband's birthday.

2. Are there any family traditions or memories associated with Thanksgiving? Watching the parade, going to a movie the next day, putting up the Christmas tree and beginning our decorations. This year we are hosting an open house at the rectory on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, for members of the parish - just coffee, tea, cider, and cookies. But that …

Monday Morning Musings

I am taking some time this morning to just rest. I have enjoyed a cup of coffee, listening to Bach Adagios, and reading various Facebook and Blogs.

Now it's time to get going. On the agenda" house cleaning, laundry, exercise, and sanding some furniture I am going to paint.

The rest of this week will be spent preparing for Evensong and Alternative Market the church is hosting. Evensong at 4pm, Market begins at 5. We will have live music, food, and over twenty artists and vendors offering their creations. I hope a lot of people come and do their Christmas shopping before Advent begins, and also shop local!

That's my week. What about yours?

Monday Morning Musings: Sometimes One Just Has to Trust Their Gut

I took a different approach to the Gospel reading in my sermon on Sunday. I was inspired by two other people who are named and linked in my previous posting of that sermon. One of my friends commented on the blog posting that she could not hear the third servant as someone who was courageous. I know what she means. And yet, every time I read the passage I could hear the courage it took for that third person in the parable tell the manager that he was corrupt. I heard the courage in light of my own efforts to be a truth teller, and the subsequent reactions of people who made me the problem instead of the problem being the problem. And then, when I preached this sermon, I heard the third servant, or slave, as the text had it, in light of the people in congregation who are of color - some born and raised here, some from other parts of the world. I found myself adding more, speaking about how problematic the word "Slave" is and how even the text itself is a source of pain for so…

No Country for the Status Quo in God's Reign

A number of years ago the film, “No Country for Old Men” came up in the queue of my Netflicks orders and Dan and I set aside an evening to watch this film. It had already won two Golden Globes and four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best supporting actor. Directed by the Joel and Ethan Coen and starring Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson, Javier Bardem, and Kelly MacDonald, I anticipated an engaging, thought provoking film.

It’s the story about an ordinary person who discovers two million dollars in the middle of the desert of western Texas. Out for a ride on his horse the man inadvertently wanders into the aftermath of a drug deal gone horribly awry. When he decides to abscond with the cash a violent chain reaction is set in motion. The violence plays out through the hit man, who comes to retrieve the money, and decides the fate of his victims through a coin toss, heads or tails. Critics describe this movie as an examination of fate and circu…

Monday Morning Musings

Life has been full, rich, complicated, and busy. Ten weeks have flown by since the middle of August when I returned from a short vacation. I have had meetings, worked with creative, high energy, good ideas people as we make plans for some fun parish activities. Being on the upswing of the "life cycle" - a time of new life and creativity, is fun. Going with that energy is exciting, even as we recognize the need to channel and focus it, a bit.

So, this morning I am enjoying some peace and quite. It comes after a delightful weekend reflecting on and celebrating our stewardship, the ways we give of our time, talent, and treasure - and the way we hope to give in the future. I am enjoying a cool, cloudy fall morning, a cup of coffee, and a day without a whole lot to do. I have some plans for this day "off." I plan to do some laundry, exercise, walk the dogs, and do some light house cleaning. I may read some of Richard Rohr's book, "Falling Upward."

The re…

Sunday Prayer:All Saints' Day

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Holy One, Creator of all
To You, we give thanks
For every blessing, for You
Are generous, O lover of souls.

Form within us,
Wisdom,
Sustained and nurtured by your
Holy Spirit
That we might,
have the grace to listen
deeply
and respond with compassion

May we be filled with gratitude
For every gift of life,
For family, friends,
And the Saints who have gone before us.

From those who are peacemakers,
May we learn, and follow their example
From those who are pure in heart
May we become likewise, Christ-like.

Holy One, Creator of all
To You, we give thanks
For every blessing, for You
Are generous, O lover of souls.

For those who suffer, we ask for comfort
For those who are ill, we ask for healing
For those who struggle, we ask for peace
For those who worry, we ask for guidance
For those who are anxious, we ask for solace
For those who are hungry, may we give food
For those who are homeless, may we provide shelter
For those who are poor, may we bring sustenance
For all the worries and cares of this earth,
May we be your…

Sunday Prayer: All Saints' Day

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Holy One, Creator of all
To You, we give thanks
For every blessing, for You
Are generous, O lover of souls.

Form within us,
Wisdom,
Sustained and nurtured by your
Holy Spirit
That we might,
have the grace to listen
deeply
and respond with compassion

May we be filled with gratitude
For every gift of life,
For family, friends,
And the Saints who have gone before us.

From those who are peacemakers,
May we learn, and follow their example
From those who are pure in heart
May we become likewise, Christ-like.

Holy One, Creator of all
To You, we give thanks
For every blessing, for You
Are generous, O lover of souls.

For those who suffer, we ask for comfort
For those who are ill, we ask for healing
For those who struggle, we ask for peace
For those who worry, we ask for guidance
For those who are anxious, we ask for solace
For those who are hungry, may we give food
For those who are homeless, may we provide shelter
For those who are poor, may we bring sustenance
For all the worries and c…

Friday Five: Time with Friends

kathrynzj over at RevGals offers this Friday Five:

For today's Friday Five please tell us 5 things you like to do with friends. Are they local - do you hit a favorite coffee shop or nail salon? What about the friends who come in from out of town? Do you have a restaurant or museum you like to show off?

1. Yesterday I had lunch with two women clergy colleagues. All three of us are new to this town, new pastors in the churches we serve. We are each from a different denomination. It was our second lunch, but we are planning to meet monthly, to share a meal, pray, share stories, be present for each other. We are also going to read a book together, "Falling Upward" by Richard Rohr.

2. I have a lot of friends that I only speak with via Facebook, blogging, email, or a phone call. We live in different states and time zones. So, we talk as, and when, we can. But that does not diminish the reality that we are friends, here for each other.

3. When friends or family come in from out …

Too Small for Anything But Love

A reflection on the readings for Proper 26A: Joshua 3:7-14

There is a point in time, in the late afternoon, when the light in the church is particularly beautiful. This time of year the sun, moving south on the horizon, pours in through the stained glass windows. Colored beams of light reflect off the walls with a vibrancy that takes my breath away. This sacred space of prayer, embraced in a mosaic of light.

The first mosaics were made in Mesopotamia, twenty five hundred years before Christ. They were decorative embellishments of terra cotta or mother of pearl. The art died out but reappeared in ninth century Greece as floor decoration. Geometric designs of pebbles were cheaper than rugs. Floor mosaics told stories. Before long the pebbles gave way to cut stone, enabling greater detail in the design. Over time this art form spread from Greece to Turkey and Egypt. Some of the finest examples of mosaics were unearthed from the ruins of Pompeii, buried under the destruction of the volc…

What Lifts You?....a RevGals Friday Five

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Sally, over at RevGals offers this Friday Five:

Over the last few weeks I have been struggling with depression, I know that from reading other folks blogs that I am not alone in this, and from time to time if not suffering from depression that everyone feels down. With that in mind I wonder what lifts you? So I'd like you to share 5 things:

1. A Scripture- it might be a verse or a whole book! When I am struggling I often go to this verse:Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit (Romans 8:26-27)

2. A piece of music. Cello, specifically, YoYo Ma

3. A place A walk usually helps

4. A person/ group of people Sometimes it helps to meet a friend for coffee...

5. Something you do... Yoga

Listen and You Just Might Hear...

A reflection the readings for Season Of Creation 5A:

The 1992 film, “A River Runs Through It”, directed by Robert Redford, and starring Tom Skillet, Brad Pitt, and Craig Sheffer, tells the story of two fly-fishermen brothers. They are sons of a Presbyterian minister living in rural Montana. The film opens with this:

My father was a Presbyterian minister...and a fly-fisherman. Though it is true that one day a week was given over wholly to religion...even then he told us about Christ's disciples being fishermen. And we were left to assume, as my younger brother Paul and I did...that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly-fishermen...and that John, the favorite, was a dry fly-fisherman.

In the afternoon, we would walk with him...while he unwound between services. He almost always chose a path along the Big Blackfoot...which we considered our family river. It was there he felt his soul restored and his imagination stirred.

Long ago rain fell on mud and became rock. H…

RevGals Friday Five

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Jan, over at RevGals offers this Friday Five:

Since it is almost my birthday and because my spiritual direction peer group is reading Living Fully, Dying Well by Edward W. Bastian and Tina L. Staley, I am thinking of my life in stages. For the latter group, we filled out a form dividing our life into 7-year increments, documenting "significant moments," then "people who guided and influenced me," and ending with the question, "What did this phase contribute to the continuum of my life?" This was a life Review Exercise devised by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.

For today's Friday Five, I am suggesting that we each divide our age into 5 sections. You don't have to say your age or ages for the different parts, unless you want to. In each of the 5 points, please describe a memorable and/or significant event, either good or unpleasant
Well, I think I can divide my life into groups based on the states I lived in.

1. Utah - I was born in Salt Lake City, …

Be Wilderness

Season of Creation 4A: Joel 1:8-10, 17-20; Romans 8:18-27

A couple of years ago I attended a clergy conference that included an opportunity to travel into Mexico to visit some of the ministries that were taking place on the border. We were loaded on a school bus in Douglas, Arizona and transported through the border patrol station into Agua Prieta, Mexico. There we visited the office of a coffee co-op and toured a local addiction rehab facility called CREDO - which has a profound ministry. This humble facility houses 92 people including women and their children, in crowded rooms with bunk beds. It also has rooms for men, similar to the women’s rooms. There are several meeting rooms and a dining area. Most of the structures are concrete walls and floors. In some instances the rooms have dirt floors. Every person in the facility works to keep the place clean, prepare food, support one another, learn about and engage in healthy behavior to support a life of sobriety. No one is turned aw…