Monday, October 14, 2013

Seeing is believing

October 13, 2013
21st Sunday After Pentecost
2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c
Psalm 111
Luke 17:11-19

Please pray with me,

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen. 

Seeing is believing….

A few weeks ago while I was on the elliptical at the gym, I was chatting with the woman next to me.  We exchanged niceties, found out what each other ‘did for work’ and the like.  When she found out I was a pastor, she said, “Good for you.  We need people like you.  The world would be a much better place with more God in it.” 

Hm, I thought, isn’t God already in the world?  So, what’s keeping us from seeing God in our world and at work in our lives?  What leads us to think that we need more God?  Maybe we’re just not seeing where God is already busy at work in our homes, our communities and our world. 

In the story “The Point” the main character Oblio is traveling through to the Pointless Forest.  Along his journey, he meets the Rockman (yup, you guessed it, a man made of rocks) and asks him if he’s seen the forest. 

The Rockman says, “You see what you want to see and you hear what you want to hear.” 

The Rockman asks, “Did you ever see Paris?” Oblio says, “No.” 

The Rockman asks, “Did you ever see New Dehli?”  Oblio says, “No.”

Well, says the Rock Man, “You see want you want to see and you hear what you want to hear.” 

You have to open your mind as well as your eyes…

You may wonder what seeing has to do with believing with today’s lesson…but it’s there.  You see faith, is not a matter of believing only, but also of seeing. 

All the lepers were healed; one however, saw, noticed, let what happened sink in…and it made all the difference. 

Because he sees what has happened, the leper recognizes Jesus, his reign and his power.
Because he sees what has happened, the leper has something for which to be thankful, praising God with a loud voice.
Because he sees what has happened, the leper changes direction, veering from his course toward a priest to first return to Jesus.

Thinking about the role of seeing as it pertains to believing…this story serves as an invitation to believers…both in Jesus time, and now, to recognize how and when we see God at work in the world. 

In the face of adversity, do we see danger or opportunity?

In the face of human need, do we see demand or gift? For example, as people line up for the food pantry do we see people in need or do we see the crew of volunteers handing out an abundance of food. 

In the face of the stranger, so we see the differences between us that could separate us or do we see a potential new best friend? 

And it goes further. When we look to God, do we see stern judge or loving parent?

When we look to ourselves, do we see failure or beloved child?

When we look to the future, do we see fearful uncertainty or an open horizon?

There is, of course, no right answer to any of these questions. How we answer depends upon what we see. Yet how we answer dramatically shapes both our outlook and our behavior.

Perhaps this is the key to living our lives as followers of Jesus that in seeing the world, we see God at work in the details. 

AND, when we see God at work in the details, we point that out to others.  We know that God is at work in the world and we know that we have been blessed abundantly with life, friends, family and a supportive community.  It is good for us to see that….for what it is…God at work in the world. 

Before we are called to believe or confess or help or do we are called simply to see...and to help others do the same. We are called, that is, to point out blessing, to claim mercy, to name grace wherever we are and with all the courage we can muster.

At the outset of this story, ten men are stuck. They live "between regions" in a "no-man's" land of being socially, religiously, and physically unclean. By the end of the story, all ten are made well. But one has something more. He has seen Jesus, recognized his blessing and rejoiced in it, and changed his course of action and behavior. And because he sees what has happened, the leper is not just healed, but is made whole, restored, drawn back into relationship with God and humanity. In all these ways he has been, if we must choose a single word, saved.

Because here’s the good news….God doesn’t wait for us to have enough faith….God acts first.  Phew, right? 

Because truth is….after that comment from the woman on the elliptical about needing more God in the world I was silent.  I wasn’t really sure how to react…and I’m a pastor….I talk about God, it’s what I do….

So thank God that God is not waiting for us to have the perfect faith to use us in the spreading of the gospel message….because we may not always get it right. 

But that’s okay, because God doesn’t wait for us to have enough faith…God acts first. 

God is already at work in your life and your world.  

God is already loving you, saving you and blessing you. 

So, stop…and look. 

Last week, while in New Orleans, we traveled either by foot, or by the city’s public transportation.  So often when on the bus or streetcar, when an older person got on, a younger person would stand up and offer their seat.  It happened more often than not. 

One day a woman entered the front of the street car and began looking for her friends.  A man got up, offered his seat and she sat down.  She called back to her friends wondering why they got on in the back and why they were separated and then stopped mid-sentence.  She looked at the man who offered his seat and she said, “I’m sorry.  I forgot to say thank you.” 

You see, these moments of grace and thankfulness are all around us. 

We are constantly reminded of living in community with others who see and react based on the needs of others. 

It’s that easy….to see these moments. 

See where God is at work in your home, at school, at work….at the gym on the elliptical….wherever you may find yourself, you are in a prime spot to see God at work in the world. 

Then take that next step and tell someone else about, your pastor, your friend, your mom or your dad, your neighbor…whoever you want!  You may not have the words in the midst of that moment…but that’s okay, because God acts first. 

And now may the peace which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say amen. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

checking in...and out.

A week ago I was in Wildwood with an amazing group of Senior High Youth.  (see previous blog post.)

Our retreat ended Wednesday.

Thursday and part of Friday was with a bunch of talented kids learning a musical to lead worship this weekend.  Lunch on Friday was full of laughs!

Then the LYF assembly began.

I met some amazing Senior High Youth.  Over the course of 2+ days we laughed, sang, prayed, danced, talked about what the church looks like to us and what we'd like it to look like, shared serious changes we'd like to see in the world and risks we might have to take to make some of those changes happen.

I took time to look at these two posters before heading to the dance last night.  Truth be told, I was in tears as I read the changes and healing that these youth wish to see in their lives and their world.  It's clear from this poster that life and faith are intersecting in their lives.  Life is happening and the world is a challenging (and sometimes messy place to be.)    I'm truly thankful for the honesty in these notes.  I continue to pray that the writers of these notes know that they are not alone that there is a community of faith that surrounds them and is there to journey with them.

The risks that people are thinking about taking as just as real as the changes they wish to see.

I'm thankful for the church, in our communities and in our world.  Congregations are places where these amazing young people can be to ask tough questions, struggle with real issues and share experiences of life, service, love and grace.

Right now I am officially exhausted.  BUT, I'm also incredibly inspired, fired up and excited about the church here and now and the church in the weeks, months and years ahead because there are passionate youth worshipping, serving, building relationships with God and one another all out of the love and grace that God has given to the world.

Our weekend wrapped up with worship.  We came together to sing, pray, hear God's word and share in the Lord's Supper.

The altar was covered with the sins we brought to God this day, it was wrapped with the changes and healing we wish to see in the world and it held the body and blood of Christ.  We were strengthened by this meal for service and love in the world.

Filled with joy, exhaustion and hope....I'll head to bed.  Giving thanks to God for this fantastic week with amazing youth.  The new IS now.

+peace all!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Retreat....definitions 2 and 3 for this word according to Miriam Webster online are as follows:

: a place of privacy or safety : refuge

: a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director

I just returned home from the Senior High Beach Retreat in Wildwood, NJ.  When you think Wildwood, maybe this comes to mind.  

Not, however, a 3 day get away with 8 high school youth, 3 adults and some 'rustic hotel' accommodations.  I'm in the process of catching my breath from 3 days of sand, sun, rain, song, laughter, games, mini m&ms, ice cream, tacos, paris whales, Bible study, waves, go-carts, beach ducks, long conversations, deepening relationships, service, prayer, and killer bunnies.  

We lived together with these expectations:

I like to think of the last 3 days as a re-treat.  I was treated again and again to fresh and new moments of seeing God in unexpected 8 youth from 4 school districts welcomed little kids into their fold as they played in the sand at the beach.  

I can't put the entire weekend into words, but these youth are amazing.  They are Spirit led, full of joy and excitement and just a complete pleasure to be with.  I am so blessed to be called to serve these youth as they continue through high school and to see them shape and mold the youth ministry that happens at Trinity.  I am ready to walk, run and sing at the top of my lungs as our journey as God's people continues in the years to come.  

I'm truly excited for the ideas and hopes they have for the future including, but not limited to community outreach, service projects within the congregation and without, partnering up with other youth for fun and fellowship, leading worship and mentoring the incoming youth group members.  

This was truly a retreat...a chance to get away ... to a place to just be ourselves - our wonderfully God made selves - and just be the body of Christ together.  

Thank you, Senior High Youth (you know who you are) and for those who weren't able to join us, we are ready for more ideas, joy, enthusiasm, friends, passion and leadership with the future of youth ministry at Trinity.  

Thanks, all, for an amazing 3 days.  

Until the next amazing moment we share in God's beautiful creation and in the community of Christ, holding you in prayer.  


PS.  This would not have been possible without 2 other things.  
a) The love and support from an amazing congregation who loves, cares for and supports the youth of Trinity.  (THANKS!)

b) Last, but never least, the 3 chaperones who joined us on this adventure.  Thanks for sharing 3 days of your week away from home to make a difference in the life of some crazy-fun youth!  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

why i cook

As I went out to run errands today, I was excited to see that the local farm stand is open for the season!

You can bet that I left with asparagus....two bunches in fact.  I knew that they would be a part of dinner...if not the main attraction.

After yoga, I was ready to eat.  I dressed one bunch of asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper and preheated the oven to 400.  I was plenty hungry...and the asparagus was so fresh and tasty, I ate two stalks (are they stalks?) before the tray went into the oven.

I started simmering some water for a poached egg and went to the garden for some fresh basil and oregano.

This was the side salad.....I was reminded that fresh lettuce really just needs a drizzle of olive oil and a tasty vinegar....tonight it was a later harvest riesling vinegar.

Here's the poached egg on the roasted asparagus with some whole grain bread all topped with a drizzle of olive oil, oregano, basil and freshly grated parm.

And just before the first bite...

Here's to good local eats, fresh food and the simplicity of an egg with some veggies....

Until the next post....

Monday, April 29, 2013

learning how to cook (again)

I've been reading the book An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace
It's a journey with food in your kitchen with your host Tamar Adler.
It's a joy to read....and it'll be read and re-read.  I may loan it out, if you ask nicely.

It's inspired me to get back into the kitchen.  I don't know about other cooks, but I ebb and flow from eating well to eating not so well, to getting too much takeout.  It all seems to spiral together with sleep, exercise and my general well being.  When I'm exercising, I like to eat well, and I sleep well, when one of those gets out of kilter, everything thing goes.

So I'm back on track.  At least this week.

I've learned how to poach an egg.  Super fun.

I remembered that I love to bake bread...and all I need to do it take time to mix up some dough (with some spent grains for texture) and then I can bake it fresh every day.



I was wondering what to make for meals this week when I made it to the chapter on veggies.  I was reminded of the joy of oven roasting them.

On Saturday, I roasted beets, carrots and parsnips.  (Not pictured: beets)

Saturday night I enjoyed beet salad with walnuts and goat cheese.

Yesterday I roasted cauliflower and broccoli.

And, per Tamar's recommendation, I popped the core of the cauliflower and the thick stems of the broccoli in some water and simmered until they were mushy.  I knew I would use it for I let it cool and popped it in the fridge.

Imagine my joy as today's weather was damp, rainy and a bit chilly.  It had soup written all over it.

I made cream of broccoflower soup.

Here's the recipe.

In a soup pot add some olive oil and a smashed clove of garlic.  Heat it slowly.  I added a splash of water so I wouldn't burn the garlic.  When the garlic was tender, I pulled it out.
Meanwhile I was enjoying my new blender as I blended the cauliflower and broccoli remains.
I added that to the soup pot and brought it to a boil, then reduced to simmer.
When it was warm I added some milk, some Parmesan cheese and some freshly cracked pepper.
When that was all mixed in, I tasted it and added some salt and a pat of butter....(that was to make up for the skim milk)

When it was done I added some of the oven roasted cauliflower for texture and garnished with parm and parsley.  Super delicious.

Here's to more fun inspired and kitchen created.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Hand prints = heart prints

So, I have to say...being an Aunt is a super cool thing.  Being invited into a family and being offered the title of Aunt, is an incredible blessing.  Yesterday I spend the afternoon with Anna, she's 5.  
What didn't we do?  

After a solid lunch of chicken fingers, smiley potatoes, carrot and celery sticks and some chocolate milk, we were ready to roll....but too full for dessert at the moment.  

We played with Marley, we played with her toys without her when she got bored and then we took a nail painting break. 

Who knows why mom doesn't let her paint her nails...mine came out fabulous!  Green with pink spots and blue with pink spots....for the Monsters, know, like Sully.  

This was the salon after we finished:

Finally, we were ready for dessert....Individual Fruit Pizzas, you can get The Pioneer Women's recipe: here! I used the sugar cookie from a dear family friend, Ellen, Z.  (thanks!) 

Here's the clean slate:

Here's one that's finished:

Here are the ones we made for ourselves and for Gammie and PopPop.  

After that, we decorated the cake for the youth Sunday school class:

There wasn't much left after Sunday school and the donut hour....which is good because I would've polished it off at home if it had come home with me.  

We looked at sno-globes and dusted them, too, since they were too dusty to look at.......oops!  We played with Marley (again).  

We played Uno and checkers and then it was time to go.  

It was a full afternoon with lots of giggles, a few surprises when chasing the cat and each other, and a few things different in my house after she left.

I got to clean up the 'salon'.

The bathroom looked like this:

(Who has time to hang towels on the rack, right?)

It may be hard to see in this photo, but it contains the hand print of a 5-yr-old.  :)

The bathroom may have been the highlight of the day.  I loved seeing the hand print and knowing that a little person had spent the afternoon at my place.

I stopped and prayed and gave thanks for parents, who see this every day.  For parents who hear the pitter patter of feet up and down the hallway and the squeal of giggles while the cat scampers around the corner.  For parents who don't get a word in when hearing about dance and the mall and the cat.
For parents who love unconditionally and for the tiny hands that they hold when they cross the street.  For parents who have empty nests and those who welcome us home when we just need a bed and a roof over our heads.  For parents who struggle.  For parents who are doing college visits with their kids.    For new parents and expecting parents.  You all are awesome, thanks.  Gracious God, be with parents when patience runs thin, when tempers flare, and when words are shouted.  Be with kids when they stomp up the stairs, slam the door and keep quiet through dinner.  Be in the lives of families through the gift of community in neighbors, friends and faith communities.  In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Until the next post . . .

Friday, April 19, 2013

sabbath :)

Ready to wind down after a wonderful day off....

Sleeping in.

A short run.

Random fun purchases at the Thrift Shop.  

Tasty lunch from Corropolese Bakery.

Quality time with my beautiful neice, Eva!  (and got to see her mom & dad, too!)

Bottled the Hefeweisen.  

Enjoyed a wonderful home cooked meal of locally caught fish with the love of my life.  

Registered for a fun 5K-ish. 

Relaxing with a purring cat as we listen to the rain fall.  

Blessings to you all.  Hoping you find peaceful moments, moments of joy and time with loved ones.