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Showing posts from March, 2012

God's Cross: a reading from Peter Abelard

Peter Abelard lived in the twelfth century, and is considered one of the greatest thinkers of his time. Abelard produced great work as a teacher, a church historian, and a theologian. Among his most well known articles is a list of 158 philosophical and theological questions, to which he posited arguments along the lines of yes, or no. So for example one question is:

Must human faith be completed by reason, or not?Abelard’s teachings were controversial. The Church challenged him because Abelard used reason to reconcile the inconsistencies of doctrine.  He would have made a wonder Episcoplian.

Here is one of his stories, which portrays his view of what God is doing in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. 

"From somewhere near them in the woods a cry rose, a thin cry, of such intolerable anguish that Abelard turned dizzy on his feet, and caught at the wall of the huts. 'It's a child' voice,' he said.

Thibault had gone outside. The Cry came again. 'A…

RevGals Friday Five: Holy Week

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Mary Beth over at RevGals offers this Friday Five:
Holy Week is upon us.

Realizing that most of our readers are clergy, and that clergy don't necessarily have the opportunity to fully worship when they are responsible for leading (creating, writing, facilitating) worship:
I invite you to share five favorite Holy Week things, five things that are truly worshipful for you. It may be that it's the way they are done in your congregation (or were done in a previous one). It may be your personal preparation for certain services or observances.

Breathe. Be still. Look to the week ahead, and Holy Weeks past, and imagine the worship.

I love Holy Week - from Palm Sunday, the Triduum, and Easter. I love the intensity of the week and the focus on who we are as Christians - it's our story of faith. It's our story made new each year. But that said there are a couple of things I love the most:

1. the footwashing on Maundy Thursday

2. the all night vigil that follows the Maund…

It's Monday Musing, but It's Not THAT Monday..

It's the Monday BEFORE Holy Week. Two Monday's from today it will all be complete - the Holy Week and Easter event! So, it's Monday, but not that Monday....

Today has been a full day. It is my day off but I did to a little "work." I went shopping and bought some plants and decorative items for Holy Week and Easter. I did this today because I had a feeling that the rest of the week, when I have a little free time, would quickly fill up.

And, of course, it has.

We now have a wake on Thursday and a funeral on Friday.

I suspected this was coming because on Friday a parishioner went into hospice. That day I drove out to the hospital where I prayed the prayers for the dying for this beloved parishioner. Thankfully this person did not linger long, was at peace, and well cared for. But, my not so busy week before Holy Week has just become busy. (Thank goodness I did that shopping today).

But honestly, it is my privilege to celebrate the life of this parishioner and a…

Tenacious Love

A reflection on the readings for Lent 5B: Jeremiah 31:31-34; John 12:20-33


What was once a garden in the backyard of the house we moved into had, over the years,been abandoned. It was now a tangled mass of raspberry brambles, tall weedy grasses, and random herbs. The roots had grown so thick and intertwined that it was impossible to pull them. We tried taking shovels and digging them up, but to no avail. So we hired a landscaping company to come and remove the unsightly mass from the yard.

The first day the landscapers came out with a couple of men and a few shovels. They made the same effort Dan and I had made, trying to pull and dig out the mess. After some time had passed, when these professional dirt diggers had done all they could imagine, they landscaper gave up and left, having removed nothing. I felt a little better – like we were not being lazy in giving up on removing that mass ourselves.


A few days later the landscapers returned, this time with a small tractor with a big sho…

The Gospel Is

I spent Friday evening and most of Saturday with Marcus Borg. Well, Borg and several hundred other inquisitive Christians. Many years ago I leaned heavily into Borg's book "The Heart of Christianity" to help guide one of my congregations through a growth spurt. One member of that parish actually told me that such books should never be allowed in church. (Seriously). I appreciated, as did most of the people in that study group, The Heart of Christianity. I think it helped us have a language to articulate what we were experiencing in church. That said,  I also found it a bit repetitive and about half way through the book it began to wear on me. Of course this was about eight years ago. As a result I went to these presentations wondering if they would be engaging or if I would begin to feel bored.

All in all I sat through four presentations by Borg. Each of them was based on his book, "Speaking Christian." So, if you have read that book you have an idea of what h…

When Believe is Really Belove

A reflection on the readings for Lent 4B: Numbers 21:4-9 andJohn 3:14-21




Mary Oliver, one of my favorite poets, has written several poems about snakes. Here is one:


What lay on the road was no mere handful of snake. It was the copperhead at last, golden under the street lamp. I hope to see everything in this world before I die. I knelt on the road and stared. Its head was wedge-shaped and fell back to the unexpected slimness of neck. The body itself was thick, tense, electric. Clearly this wasn’t black snake looking down from the limbs of a tree, or green snake, or the garter, whizzing over the rocks. Where these had, oh, such shyness, this one had none. When I moved a little, it turned and clamped its eyes on mine; then it jerked toward me. I jumped back and watched as it flowed on across the road and down into the dark. My heart was pounding. I stood a while, listening to the small sounds of the woods and looking at the stars. After excitement we are so restful. When the thumb of fear…

Praying In Color

The weather is unseasonably warm, but since the redwing black birds and robins have returned, it seems that Spring is here. As I walked the dogs this afternoon I delighted in the possibility of a real Spring. In this part of the Midwest a real Spring is rare. Usually we have rain, cold, rain and then sun and hot summer. And I know it is only March so we could easily get a major snow storm. But for now it seems that we are having a proper Spring, with birds and flowers and temperatures that are just right.

We are into the third week of our Lenten Series which we are calling: "Kindling the Fire - Igniting Our Prayer Life". We are sharing this series with a near by Lutheran Church, each taking turns hosting the soup supper and the program. Tonight we learned to pray in color. This is a really delightful prayer form "created" by Sybil MacBeth who wrote the book "Praying In Color." She and her husband are in the area for a while and so we were blessed to be ab…

Monday Morning Musings

Last week was crazy busy. I returned from my trip to New York City and the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, with a cold. The cold went from annoying to terrible. And yet I had so much work I had to do. Last Monday a tour group came to our church. 87 people on a day long "Historic House of Worship" tour. I had to be present to greet them and talk about our church.

Tuesday I had worship and two classes on our Lenten book, "Speaking of Sin" by Barbara Brown Taylor. So far the conversations around this book have been amazingly fruitful and engaging.

Wednesday I had my annual doctor's appointment with a fasting blood draw. Later that night we had our Lenten program at the parish, shared with the Lutheran church. Thursday I hosted the Bishop and a group of local clergy participating in "Fresh Start." Friday we had our picture taken for the new photo directory. Saturday I had to write a sermon. And Sunday was the time change and a full day …

The Word Between the Lines

Our Lenten book study this year focuses on Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, “Speaking of Sin.” Taylor begins the book with a reflection on words that are no long used such as “Forsooth” and “Perdition” and “Vouchsafe” – words that we sometimes hear in the Rite One liturgy of the Episcopal Church, but no longer are expressed in ordinary vocabulary. Taylor also discusses words that have changed their meaning and context, an idea which lead to some engaging conversation in the study groups thus far as we thought of words that have changed their meaning in our lifetimes. Can you think of some words that have changed their meaning in your lifetime – words like, “Cool…”
I ended up with an ear-worm of an old Neil Young song called, “Words” and the refrain: “Singing words, words between the lines of age.” Taylor writes that “Language is a particular community’s way of making meaning over time.”
Recently I attended the opening week of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York…

Friday Five: Talking About Women

Karla, over at the RevGalBlogPals blog, posted this Friday Five, as she prepares for the Women's Retreat at her church this weekend:

1. Name a woman author you very much love to read. I have several, each for a different reason: Barbara Kingsolver, Terry Tempest Williams, Mary Oliver , Jennifer Weiner, Elizabeth George, Julia, Spencer-Fleming, Anita Diamont, Susan Albert Wittig. I have read almost everything these women have written, and I anxiously await there next book.Each is very different. Some are murder mysteries. Some are fictionalized history. Some are reflections on life, spirituality, the environment and humanity. One is a poet.

2. Name a woman from the Bible with whom you would like to enjoy a nice long coffee talk. Mary Magdalene. The woman at the well. Leah. Deborah.

3. Name a famous woman from history with whom you would like to have lunch. Susan B. Anthony (we were born on the same day, albeit many years apart). But also, Hillary Clinton. Or, Michele Obama. Or Q…

Images of Lent

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Close up of the dried sunflower, curly willow in a vase of rocks


Chapel with dried sunflower and curly willow in a vase of rocks



The altar in the Church with rocks, the box (tomb) where we buried the alleluia's, and pussy willow branches in glass vases with rocks

The baptismal font with rocks and a bubbling fountain, reflecting the rocky journey of life and yet, the love of God that bubbles forth in and through life