Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

Yesterday, following the two Sunday morning services, I spent an hour and a half working in the garden. It's a community garden, an offering of the church, and I have a plot in it. So far I have planted three varieties of tomatoes, green and yellow pepper, green beans and Lima bean, oregano, sage, garlic, leeks, chives, marigolds and dahlias. Yesterday I added cucumbers and basil. Then, in August I will start broccoli and Brussels sprout seedlings for a fall garden, they will go not the garden in September for a late November harvest.

In addition to tending to my plot I also help weed the entire garden, including the two empty plots. We're hoping to find two more people to take the empty plots, but if not we will plant flowers, just to keep the weeds down.

It's wonderful to be outside gardening. Still, I find myself impatient. I want to rush through the weeding and get rid of them. But I work to slow down, be, mindful, attentive, and appreciate the rich soil, the worms, the sun.

Today I intend to exercise with my DVD for abs, arms, and legs. Then I'm going to do a little gardening. I hope to take a walk into town, mostly for something to do. My husband works all day and I'm alone with the dogs. I think I'll walk to Panera Cares, with my book and have an iced tea. it's a good twenty minute walk, and a good community project to support.

Other than that it will be a quiet day. The rest of the week will include the usual round of meetings, plus mu first(here) memorial service.

That's my week, what about yours?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Love that Binds

A reflection on the Gospel for Easter 6A:John 14:15-21

A recent article on MSNBC Today internet news tells this story: “Michelle Feldstein was prepared to provide special accommodations for the blind horse she recently added to the flightless ducks, clawless cats and homeless llamas inhabiting her animal shelter in Montana.

But nothing could prepare her for (what actually happened)....

“Sissy came with five goats and five sheep – and they take care of her,” said Feldstein, the force behind Deer Haven Ranch, a private rescue facility she runs with her husband, Al, on 300 acres north of Yellowstone.

The seeing-eye sheep and guard goats are never far from the white mare, and they never lead her astray. They shepherd Sissy to food and water, and angle the horse into her stall amid blowing snow or driving rains.

“They round her up at feeding time and then move aside to make sure she gets to eat” Feldstein said. “They show her where the water is and stand between her and the fence to let her know the fence is there.”

Feldstein rescued the horse and her companions from another rescue facility in western Montana where they were slated to be put down. She says, “There's a magic involved in sheep, goats, and a horse becoming friends...and you have to wonder, why can't people do that?”

Jesus says, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” Jesus also says, “The greatest commandment is this, that you shall love God, love others, and love yourself.” The Gospel of John, the Easter season Gospel, is all about love. Not the mushy, warm and fuzzy love, but mostly the hard kind of love, extending compassion and care to the least of God's creation, and the human beings that challenge us the most.

In the Gospel of John it is night, we're back to Maundy Thursday. Today's reading is known as his “farewell” address, and is filled with his efforts to assure his disciples and calm their fears. The disciples have no idea of what lies ahead, of the chaos they will witness and live through.

Last Sunday I spoke about the nature of God - as the One who creates life and recreates new life out of chaos, often using human hands and hearts to manifest God's love in the world. As some prepared for the end of the world based on some mathematical equation derived from Noah and the flood, others in this country were dealing with real life struggles and tragedies. This has been the most destructive tornado season on record. Sunday night the massive tornado destroyed portions of Joplin, MO. Tuesday night found me following Facebook and Twitter updates as many of my friends in Texas and Oklahoma sought shelter from several waves of tornadoes. Those same storms blew through Ohio and Michigan dumping buckets of water on us.

One Facebook friend to wrote, “For some, the world ends every day...”

For some the world ends every day.

The disciples knew this feeling. But they also learned what comes after, what comes with love. I don't know if we could call the actions of the sheep and goats tending to Sissy, acts of love. But it could be. I certainly think that animals are capable of emotion. Perhaps on some level they understand that their lives are fragile, that they were facing a sure and certain end, perhaps some aspect of that reality brought them together and formed them into this caring mis-matched troupe of sheep and goats and a blind horse. I also imagine that in some regard, in some way, there is a presence of love between them. And, in that regard, Feldstein has it right, they model for us, how we too are called to love.

In un-predictable ways, in mis-matched ways, with people we least expect. Called to love like this because that is how Jesus loved- with outcasts and sinners, with women and fishermen, with tax collectors, and children, the lost, the broken, the sick, with everyone and anyone.

And now the news is filled with stories of rescue, of people helping other people. My little Facebook and twitter group, are holding in prayer, a string of people across this country from Oklahoma City, to Dallas, Texas, to Joplin, Missouri, to Memphis, Tennessee, to Little Rock Arkansas, to Huntsville, Alabama, to Dayton Ohio – people known “in real life” and those known only through social networks, but all who know the other as “friend.”

I have had the opportunity these last couple of weeks to visit with some of our home-bound parishioners. People, who, in their younger years, were vibrant members of this parish. I bring them communion, I anoint them and pray with them. I take the time to listen to their stories and try to see this church through their eyes, their love. I hope to give them a space to remember, and place to be remembered. I hold their sorrow and sadness as they describe what it is like to be the last of their generation, to have all of their friends gone. I try to bring to them a sense of being cared for, of the love that resides in this congregation, among all of you. And I strive to honor the reality that we are here because they were here, just like those who come after us will be able to do so because we are here now.

Through out time, what binds us together, from Jesus to the disciples, from the founding members of the Christian church to the founding members of this church, and through every generation that has worshiped here, is the love of God. The love of God made known to us through Jesus, through prayer and song, through bread and wine, through hands extended out to share the gifts, where strangers become friends and friends become family, guiding one another through joys and travails of life. A mis-matched bunch, perhaps, but one united, nonetheless, in the love of God.

I think its awesome that Feldstein and her husband are caring for animals who would otherwise have no home. But I think it is sad that she does not know human beings who show the same kind of love and compassion for other humans as she sees in the guidance of the sheep and goats for the blind horse. All around us are human beings doing this, reaching into chaos and, acting as agents of God's love, working to bring forth wholeness, through love and compassion for others. From Japan to Chile, from the Australia to the Gulf Coast, across this country and around the world, people stepping into the chaos and helping, restoring order, a sign of hope, hearts of love. I hear this, too, in the stories of this church through the decades, and I witness it every day as I come to know you.

If you love me, you will keep my commandment, to love God, love others, and love self.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Five: Ah-Choo! Edition

Mary Beth, our host for today's Friday Five over at RevGals, is allergic to ligustrum. She writes:

Ligustrum is a type of privet hedge and it is very invasive. VERY. It's a spready green bush with leaves of various sizes and tiny white flowers of a head-piercing sweetness.

So, thinking about allergies:

1. Do you experience any seasonal allergies? Are you allergic to anything else? I am allergic to mold, dust, and ragweed, although over the years my seasonal allergy to ragweed has diminished a bit. In the same general family as ragweed I am also allergic to chamomile and echinacea. I can have an occasional cup of chamomile tea, but not every night. I also have issues with vitamin C (canker sores) and all acidic fruits like pineapple, some melons, oranges, etc. I get my vitamin C from veggies, I don't even take a multiple vitamin because they all contain too much vitamin C. Oh, and walnuts also cause canker sores....

2. What kinds of symptoms do you experience during your allergic reactions? Regarding pineapple, citrus, and walnuts:mouth sores and an upset stomach. The other allergies cause breathing issues and congestion, watery eyes, itchy throat. And once, while taking echinacea, I had a terrible allergic reaction and broke out in massive hives that lasted a week and required daily doses of progesterone and benadryl.

3. How do you manage your allergies? (ie: medication, avoidance, alternative therapies, etc) I take a generic version of Zyrtec, and sometimes a small dose of benadryl at bedtime.

4. What is the strangest allergy you've ever heard of? I think I have some peculiar allergies...

5. How do you feel about school and social policies that banning peanuts and other allergens? If, as a parent, my children had had bad allergies to peanuts or some other food, I would have appreciated assistance from others. Mostly, if I am responsible for another parent's child with these allergies I worry about unintentional exposure because I eat peanuts and peanut butter. I'd be very careful. So, I guess I would be ok with the ban.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

For the first time in a long while, we had two days of sun - Saturday and Sunday. In addition to my usual weekend work preparing for Sunday morning, my husband and I began work on our garden. The church has a community garden on the grounds and we have a plot. Saturday we weeded and tilled and added nutrients. Sunday I planted tomatoes, several varieties, green and yellow peppers, and marigolds. Today we're going to pick up cucumbers, basil, green beans and cilantro. Hopefully I'll get them in the ground before it storms today.

Speaking of storms, I continue to pray for those afflicted by this wild and violent weather we are having...OMG!

The rest of the week includes a lot of meetings...What about your week?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Out of Chaos

A reflection on the readings for Easter 5A: Acts 7:55-60, John 14:1-14

All week long my colleagues and I joked on Facebook about the pending “end of the world” - which since we are still here, did not happen yesterday. Apparently some mathematical configuration found in the Bible defined May 21, 2011 as the day of the rapture – the return of Christ – potentially leaving the world in upheaval and chaos as “some are taken up to God” and some are left behind.

Charles Hardy, in his book, The Empty Raincoat, has some thoughts on the idea of chaos. He writes:

“Management and control are breaking down everywhere. The new world order looks very likely to end in disorder. We can't make things happen the way we want them to at home, at work, or in government, certainly not in the world as a whole. There are, it is now clear, limits to management....

Scientist call this sort of time the edge of chaos, the time of turbulence and creativity out of which a new order may jell. The first living cell emerged some four million years ago, from a primordial soup of simple molecules and amino acids. Nobody knows why or how. Ever since then the universe has had an inexorable tendency to run down, to degenerate into disorder and decay. Yet it has also managed to produce from that disorder an incredible array of living creatures. Plants, and bacteria, as well as stars and planets. New life is forever springing from the decay and disorder of the old.

At the Santa Fe Institute, where a group of scientists are studying these phenomena, they call it 'complexity theory.' They believe that their ideas have as much relevance to oil prices, race relations, and the stock market as they do to particle physics...(that) the edge of chaos (is) the one place where a complex system can be spontaneous, adaptive and alive....” (The Empty Raincoat, Arrow Books, 1995, pg. 16).

In a way, this describes our Christian understanding of life: that from chaos came life. We hear it in Genesis, and it's the resurrection story too.

Granted, today's reading from Acts gives us a particular snapshot of the chaos, of the struggles of the Christian life. Stephen, who is known as the first Deacon of the church, has run into trouble. Some people have rejected his leadership and the punishment is death. Stephen, as he faces the end of his life, offers us a mystical glimpse of his faith, and his confidence in the love of God. He asks for forgiveness for those who judge him and expresses trust in the life to come. His confidence in the love of God is intended to remind us to invest our selves in this life, this world, acting as agents of God's presence, God's compassion, even when we face challenges, struggles, fears, and chaos. Stephan’s faith believes that out of chaos comes new life.

The stories we hear from Acts of the Apostles are of the challenges of the early church being birthed into life from the tragedy of two events: the crucifixion of Jesus, and the chaos of the Roman-Jewish war that destroyed the temple in the year 72. Those who formed the early church were Jews who worshiped, as they always had, in their home synagogues, creating two branches of Judaism that co-existed for some forty years. That is, until the temple was destroyed and the Jewish people were scattered. The temple was the heart of Jewish faith – the temple was where God lived, where people came to be in the presence of God. The tension of that chaotic time - the death of Jesus and the destruction of the temple - separated the followers of Jesus from those who followed the teachers of Moses. Judaism took on a new life, formed in smaller groups around a single teacher, and the rabbinic tradition was born. The story we hear in Acts reflects the movement of those who rejected the rabbinic movement and followed the teachings of Jesus, giving birth to Christianity. Out of chaos comes new life.

Our Psalm this morning points us in this same direction. It's a beautiful Psalm. One that Jesus clearly knew from his Jewish upbringing. In the Gospel of Luke, the final words of Jesus on the cross are from this Psalm: “Into your hand I commit my Spirit.”

The Psalmist reminds us that in the midst of chaos and confusion and tragedy, God is ever present. God walks with us, God carries us, God abides with us, God never leaves us. But more than that, the resurrection reminds us that God always scoops into the chaos and brings forth new life. But God doesn't do this alone.

In the Gospel reading Jesus expresses a profound mystical understanding of the presence of God, a presence found in this life and in the life to come. Without spelling this out in concrete detail of date and time and place, Jesus speaks with assurance of the comprehensive love of God, now and in the future. As Christians we understand this abiding love of God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. For us, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. The opening passages of John's Gospel remind us that Jesus is a particular expression of God's-self. The Word, as an expression of God manifests as Jesus. The prologue to the Gospel of John suggest that the Word is more than a person made flesh, the Word has been part of God's expression into the world since before creation. The Word spoke into the chaos and brought forth order, new life, land and water, sun, moon and stars, and every living creature. The Word expresses God's self into all creation, into the life of Jesus, and continues to express God's love into the world through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Some believe that the Word expresses God's self into other faith traditions, into Judaism and Islam, and maybe others, as well. Who knows? The Word of God, God's self expression, is mystical and beyond our ability to know fully. As Christians we know God in the Trinity; specifically in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Understanding God and the purpose of our lives through Jesus, through baptism, and through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, shapes and forms who we Christians are as human beings. However, this reading from the Gospel of John is less about our faith and more about how we make meaning of our faith. This reading calls us to not only model our lives on Jesus, but to do even greater things – love even more abundantly, give even more generously, live even more expansively, than Jesus. That is a high calling!

Thankfully the reading reminds us that the power, the ability to do even greater things than Jesus did during his life, does not come from our own ability. Rather, this ability comes from our relationship with God, and is always a God-infused gift of opportunity and ability. Out of the chaos God brings forth new life. Through the incarnation, when the Word became flesh, we learn that God sometimes chooses to do God's work through human life. In the resurrection we learn that God sometimes chooses to renew creation through human life. And, so, likewise God sometimes chooses to use us, to enable us to be partners in co-creating the well-being of the world. We are called to be the hands and heart of Christ, called to respond to the broken places of this world with love and compassion, to heal and to help, generously.

Out of chaos, comes new life.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Five: Words

Jan, over at RevGal, offers this Friday Five Meme:

So my suggestion for today's Friday Five is to write about 5 words you really like. Please explain why you have chosen each word, in such ways as:

It is a

1. description or attribute of yourself: a Bishop I know from another diocese, one who is about to retire, use to say that I was
humble" - I was never quite sure what HE meant by that, but I like to think that I am humble.

2. activity you enjoy: knitting, walking, yoga, bike riding

3. word that is spelled or pronounced in an interesting way: do you say, "ah" or "A" - as in ah-men, or Amen? or A thing or ah thing? and why?

4. passion of yours: I like many aspects of life, but a passion? Preaching can be a passion, it certainly anchors the rhythm of my week. Daily prayer, especially meditation, is a passion, albeit a gentle one. Healthy living is probably my life-long passion - health of mind, body, and spirit.

5. word that brings you hope, peace, or comfort: "in quietness and confidence shall be our strength" - ok, so several words, a prayer phrase actually...but one I have prayed often.

and, a bonus...

6.word you like to repeat or sing: I often wake up with "ear-worms," phrases of music rolling through my thoughts. Lately it's been Joni Mitchell, "Woke up it was a Chelsea morning:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

Last night, for whatever reason, I had a tenacious headache. After taking the various pain meds, that dimmed the pain, but didn't relieve me of it, I took a hot bath and went to bed. This morning I have a "shadow" of the pain. I know that I need a massage and to get back into a yoga and exercise routine, both of which will help ease this cycle of headaches I've had. It's a challenge to organize every aspect of life, when much of my daily life involves doing new activities in a new place. It's a reminder to me that good stress is still stress. The hot bath helped relax my muscles and encourage a restful sleep.

We continue to have long lingering days of rain. Relentless rain, clouds, and chilly temperatures. But worse, I know that our rain is eventually washing down river and causing greater strain on those who live in Mississippi and Louisiana. I worry about all those who have had to leave their homes so the levees can be opened. Yet another weather related tragedy.

Anyway, on this Monday, a day off, I intend to take a yoga class, rest, read, and relax. The rest of the week is filled with meetings - coffee with various members of the interfaith community and parishioners.

What about you? What are you doing this day, this week?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What's In A Name...

A reflection on the readings for Easter 4A: Acts 2:42-47, John 10:1-10

When I was a young girl my mother was fond of telling me the story of how she named me. The top five names for girls in 1957 were: Mary, Susan, Debra, Karen, and Linda. My mother wanted a different name for me, unique and unusual, at least in her mind. She had a photo of me that was printed in the Salt Lake City newspaper on my first birthday, along with all the other kids celebrating first birthday's. The photographs made her point, three of the girls were named Debra and then there was me, Terri Lynnette: Terri spelled with two “r's” and an “i.” Simple as my name is I have had to spell it for people my entire life. And, in my entire childhood the only other Terry's I knew were boys. Sometimes I wished for a typical girl's name. Now, I know other women with the name Terri, although there are a number of different spellings.

My mother's given name was Joan, but in her 40's, with her children grown, and following a divorce from her second husband, she claimed a new identity through her Irish heritage. As a natural red-head with green eyes, she legally changed her name to Shannon.

Regardless of how intentional we are in selecting names, compared to the ancient world, the modern practice of naming is arbitrary. In the world of Jesus and those who came before him, Abraham and Sarah, names designated something particular about the person. Through God's blessing Abram, Sarai, and Saul under-go a change of name – Abram becomes Abraham, Sarai becomes Sarah, and Saul becomes Paul – the great St. Paul. The name change for these people in the Bible signifies a change in who they are, their identity has changed. The names of people in the Bible give us insight into who the person is.

In the Bible the name of God is a central theme. Knowing the divine name gives privilege to some, and invoking that divine name, according to Biblical stories, brings gifts of grace. Can you think of some the names of God that you know of from the Bible? In the Hebrew Bible God is named “El” which is also translated as “God.” Also - “El Elyon” - God most high; “El Olam” - everlasting God; “El Shaddai” - Almighty God. God revealed God's name to Moses as “I AM” which over time became known as YHWH – and is sometimes pronounced as Yahweh – although traditionally it is not said out loud. Christians have traditionally used Lord – a male noun describing authority; Adonai – which also means Lord; and Kyrios which for the ancient Greeks distinguished God from the Roman emperor.

The ancient Christian Church soon adopted Lord as the title for Jesus. But there are many other names for Jesus found in the Bible. Can you think of some? Here are a few names for Jesus that we find in the New Testament: Word, Lamb of God, Son of God, Rabbi, Messiah, son of Joseph, King of Israel, Son of Man, Emmanuel, bread, vine, a mother hen, and, from our reading in John this morning, the good shepherd.

Many of the passages in scripture, including the Acts of the Apostles, which we hear every year in the season of Easter, remind us that the Christian life and faith proceeds from and , in, the name of Jesus.

In a few weeks, on the feast of Pentecost, we will baptize a new member into our community of faith and into the Christian Church. From now until that day we will pray for this young baby, by his first name Peyton, and his two middle names – Edward and Kirkland. But we won't use his last name, his surname because in baptism we all the same last name – Christian. So in a few minutes, when we pray for Peyton Edward Kirkland remember in the back of your mind that he will soon add another name – Christian. He will join us in the family of faith.

Being named Christian, and claiming our mutual identity as members of the family of Jesus, calls us to a particular identity. It's this forming and claiming of identity that brings us here each Sunday. Here to be reminded, through scripture, and prayer, and hymns, what we are to be about as the family of Christ. In other words, Christian is not only a noun, but it's also a verb. Christian is a call to action, to follow the shepherd, to live abundantly.

What do you think of when you consider what it means to live abundantly? I imagine most of us have had a change of heart about that term over the ten years or so. For most of us living abundantly no longer means having more things, bigger and better stuff. As Christians living abundantly has a particular context that models the life and ministry of Jesus. It means something along the lines of having abundant generosity and compassion for ourselves and for others.

One of my favorite television programs is “The Good Wife.” Tuesday night's episode was particularly gripping as Alicia wrestles with the betrayal of her husband's brief affair with her best friend and co-worker, Calinda. In one scene, Calinda, the tight-lipped, unemotional, private investigator for the firm, distraught over her broken friendship with Alicia, begins to fall apart. All alone in an elevator she dissolves into tears. In another scene, her boss, Will, a partner of the firm, notices that Calinda is not her self. Reaching out with care and compassion he suggests to her that one day she will need to confide in someone. But Calinda, stoic and resolute, responds, “There is one thing I have learned, I NEVER have to confide in anyone.”

As human beings we are born with a complex range of emotions and feeling. We need each other in order to become fully who we are intended to be. Our Christian identity is formative in that regard. Our call to live in community is intended to be supportive, each of us for the other. Day in and day out living our life of faith, worshiping together, praying together, breaking bread together – either in the Eucharist or over a meal – spending time learning about our faith and one another, being present for each other through our struggles and our joys – are all part of our Christian identity. Living a life of faith transforms us. Embraced in the love of Christ, in the security of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, we learn that we are not alone. Living the life of faith teaches us the depth of God's love for us, we come to know that love as an inherent component of our identity. And in being loved, and named as God's beloved, we are called to do like wise, to go and love others as Christ loves us.

- Portions of this reflection were informed by: Gail Ramshaw, “Treasures Old and New” Images in the Lectionary, from the chapter, “Name of God”

Monday, May 09, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

I slept in a bit this morning, rolling out of bed at a leisurely 7:30am. After reading some email and blogs, while drinking coffee, I made breakfast for my husband and me. (Bacon, eggs scrambled with potatoes, tomatoes, onion, celery, broccoli, cumin, and avocado - and some bit-sized scones and muffins left over from the church reception yesterday). It was good. I love to eat my eggs with salsa, something I learned in the Southwest.

Dan and I had a number of things to take care of: phone calls to our bank, our accountant, some bills, and so on). We made lists of things we have to buy, like garbage cans and drawer dividers for my utensils. I spent a little time organizing the home office - which is currently serving as our pet room - where we feed the dogs and cats and house the litter boxes. This room is the final area that needs work, but it is also the catch-all room so I struggle with what to do with some of the stuff.

By mid-morning we were able to take our dogs for a long walk. It has been a simply beautiful day - sunny, warmish, and so many flowering trees. We enjoyed our walk, and the dogs did too!

Now, I'm doing laundry and thinking about reading for awhile, as I enjoy a cup of Earl Grey tea and dark chocolate with almonds.

Is this a day off for you? Or are you busy with work?

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Sunday Prayer: Easter 3A

Gracious One
be with those who
need you this day

Those who are suffering
from the storms
tornados and tsunami's
or drought
and wild fires
for suffering
in every way.

Gracious One
be with those who
seek you this day

Those who cry
from depths
of heart
soul longing

Gracious One
be with those who
do not know You

The who are lost
or, reject your love
or doubt you
or cannot feel your
ever present spirit.

Gracious One
who love us as

Startle us
beckon, guide
awaken us

Gentle One
gift us
with love
like a mother
the one we had,
the one we wish we had
the one we hope to be
the one we find
like the women
at the foot of the cross
a love that never ends

Gracious One
reveal yourself
to us
be with us
live in us.

crossposted on RevGalBlogPals and A Place for Prayer

Saturday, May 07, 2011

It's How We Respond That Matters

A reflection on the readings for Easter 3A, Luke 24:13-25

Recently I attended a worship service, as a member of the congregation, at the church where a friend of mine is the rector. When it was time for the peace my friend greeted me and my husband Dan and moved on. It was clear to me that my friend did not recognize me.

Now, I wasn't surprised by this, my friend hasn't seen me in person for 13 years. We do “talk” on Facebook but otherwise we have lived in different states. Actually I have grown accustomed to people not recognizing me. If I change the way I wear my hair people won't recognize me. If I pull it back, wear down, let it go curly or blow it dry and straighten it, or change the color, or the length, some people will look right past me.

So I was neither surprised nor concerned about this. Later, when the service was over we joined the group of people leaving the church, and then I had the opportunity to tell my friend who I was. Then of course, she recognized me immediately.

I imagine we all have had similar experiences when we either failed to recognize someone or have not been recognized ourselves.

And so perhaps this universal experience is one reason that our reading today is so well known. Every year on the third Sunday after Easter we hear the story of the couple on the road to Emmaus who encounter Jesus but fail to recognize him in his resurrected state.

This is just one of a series of stories about people who fail to recognize the resurrected Jesus. Scripture tells us that his body still showed clear signs of the trauma he'd been through. Our reading last week had Thomas asking to see those wounds as proof that the man speaking to him really was Jesus. The woman at the tomb thought he was the gardener. Even though he carried the wounds, his appearance changed just enough, that people didn't recognize him. Well, that and of course, no one expected to see him. In the reading it is still the first day of Easter. Only a short time had passed from that tragic Good Friday to these resurrection appearances, and a lot had transpired in that time.

A lot has been going on our world too. Take for example what has happened just since March 9, which was Ash Wednesday. My husband and I drove to Dearborn that morning for our final round of meetings with the search committee, vestry, and Bishop. And, we had a great time meeting people we knew from phone interviews or the site visit, or by name only. Two days later, the meeting and greeting completed, we prepared to return to Chicago. Do you remember that morning of March 11? We woke to the news of the earthquake and Tsunami that hit Japan and was moving toward Hawaii.

A few weeks later, having accepted the call to come here, my husband and I drove back. The car was loaded with a few belongings, our three dogs, and our two cats. The moving truck brought everything else. It was Holy Week, just before the arrival of the Rev. Terry Jones. As Dan and I unpacked we watched the local news, intrigued by the trial. Shortly thereafter the rash of deadly tornado's hit the south, impacting people I know in Little Rock, Arkansas and Huntsville, Alabama. Then Terry Jones returned to Dearborn, there was a royal wedding, and then, last Sunday, bin Laden.

It's only been 8 weeks since our visit for Ash Wednesday – but even in that short time much in the world has changed....some parts are now unrecognizable, not likely to ever be quite the same again.

Monday I began my first week here. Part of my work in these early days is to learn as much as I can about this church, who each of you are, and the work that has gone on before me. Sometime on Monday I opened the Rector's email and found a long email thread from the Dearborn Interfaith Community, their responses to the death of Bin Laden.

Here's a bit of what was said in that email thread:

I just ask Everyone to Pray, Be Safe, and Remain Cautious as You Pray!! 

And Remember The Military and others who are still out there in The Middle East. 

Obviously the death of Bin Laden is not necessarily the total death for Al-qida nor terrorism.

We all need to work together to promote the message of peace and justice and returning to the true teachings of the Lord, brought to us through Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammad (peace be upon them)....

Terrorism and extremism should have no room in any religion, of course neither injustice and oppression.

Yes, Let's Continue to Pray. And Let Our Actions Be Peaceful and Positive. 

Speaking again With "One Voice"

Now is a time to build in unity.  "

I don't know any of the people who wrote these emails. I am included in the thread by virtue of being the rector here. I was able to gather that they represent a range of clergy from both Christian Churches and the Muslim Community. I have no idea if any of those who commented are Jewish.

I am struck by the level of compassion and care everyone expressed for everyone else, a gracious response. No call for celebration, but a call for prayer and unity. In fact a couple of days later the Ayatollah invited all the clergy to attend a thank you dinner at the Islamic Institute of Wisdom. An invitation to gather as a group, break bread, and share our common faith in a gracious and loving God.

The recent events in our world, and this snippet of an email thread, point us to the message in today's Gospel reading. Life is unpredictable. Stuff happens. Tragedies happen. Blessings happen. Moments of feeling clear and certain are fleeting. Inspiration comes and goes. Health is temporary. “But, God is in each detail, filling it with holiness and then moving on the next and inviting us to follow. Faithfulness is in the remembering but also in movements that create new memories and new possibilities. As the Emmaus story notes, hospitality is the open door to creative transformation and an expanded vision of possibilities.” (Bruce Epperly, Faith and Process blog).

In truth, what happens is often less important than how we respond to what happens.

This couple, walking down the road, did not recognize the man who joined them on the journey. They are grieving from so great a tragedy. But their sorrow did not prevent them from being gracious. Sad as they were they reached out to this stranger and invited him to share a meal with them. Their response to loss and sorrow and tragedy, was grief, indeed, but it was also gratitude and gracious hospitality.

Here at Christ Church we have a lot to be thankful for and much to celebrate. It is a great joy for me to be here with you. I look forward to coming to know each of you by name and by face. Over the next few weeks we will have occasion to celebrate and rejoice the hard work of the search committee and vestry and the coming together of this new relationship between me, the next rector, and you, the congregation. Let us rejoice and be glad as we begin this journey together. And may it be for us and those we touch in the world around us, a journey filled with graciousness and hospitality to friend and stranger, alike.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Friday Five: Word Match

Songbird, over at RevGalBlogPals, offers this Friday Five:

First, for each of these five words -- all of which remind me of my *most* excellent vacation -- share the first word that comes to mind when you read it.

1) Airport ugh, security measures, taking off shoes and unloading my suitcase of the "baggy" of 3 oz stuff and the computer and cell phone and jacket and....

The more I fly the more prepared and organized I am to make the unloading for security process as organized as possible - but even still I end up needing four or five bins, and I end up feeling ridiculous.

Then, my most airport experience - La Guardia - had no decent coffee or place to sit in the American Terminal I was in. And because I took super shuttle to the airport I arrived three hours early.... (The United terminal I was in last year is a little better).

2) Baseball Wondering if there will be a Detroit Tigers - Chicago Cubs World Series...LOL (hey, it could happen)....

3) Art Grateful that ALL of my artwork made it through the move from Arizona to Chicago, a year in storage, and a recent move to Michigan, and nothing broke. NOTHING! None of my art, not a single dish or glass, and all the furniture is ok too. I'm amazed because we packed ourselves, loaded the truck in AZ and drove the truck to Chicago, and then loaded the storage locker.

4) Chocolate Dark. Preferably with almonds! And, daily. with tea. In the afternoon.

5) Grill Yes. Often during the summer. Salmon, steak, burger, chicken.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Monday Morning Musings on Tuesday Night

...or, what it means to return to work and not (yet) have Monday as a day off. My first two days have been good. I've met a few people and am learning a lot from the parish administrator (she's a big help!). This morning I presided at the weekday Eucharist which was also the monthly healing service. I really enjoyed it. My office is mostly unpacked and I'm in the process of hanging artwork and diploma's and ordination certificates. I still need to find some new office furniture, but I'm well on my way to locating what I like. The rest of the week will include a couple of meetings with parishioners and choir, and then of course writing a sermon.

That's my week, what about yours?

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Sunday Prayer: Easter 2A

God of all new things, God of
Spring, and fragrant flowers, and
unexpected snow. God of hope
and new life,
Bless us, we pray,
this day.

Creator God from whom
all life springs forth
We give You thanks
Come, one and all,
Celebrate and rejoice!

Celebrate and rejoice -
The old has passed away
Everything has become new!

God of all things passing away, God
of old and yesterday,
the One
who is with us
in our despair and fear.
God who sighs and weeps, with us,
God who wipes away our tears.

Loving God, we offer up these prayers of concern this day -
for those struggling to rebuild lives
from natural disasters, especially those
recovering from the recent tornado's -
and for those recovering from human disasters
from failed economies -
also for those struggling with illness
and, from_______________ .

Hear us when we pray. Incline
your ear to our words,

Be gentle with our suffering
with our sorrows and losses,
and especially when our hard
hearts close us off to you.
Be gentle.
Be gentle.
O God, be God!

Anoint us with your touch
so that the softness of your love
can break into our hardness
and open us anew.

Anoint us, Holy One and fill
us with you loving touch.
Fill us that we can touch
in your love and fill
others. Fill us gently.
Fill us.

Living God, father, son,
mother, daughter
Family, friend, one, all
With, through, and by
Your love becomes

Celebrate and rejoice -
The old has passed away
In you, in your resurrection,
In your life and love,
Everything becomes new!

Crossposted on RevGalBlogPals and A Place for Prayer

Homily for the Festive Eucharist at the closing of the Episcopal Women's Caucus

The readings that we chose for the service tonight were all picked specifically for this service because they lift up the role of women ...