Sunday, April 22, 2012

good times, inside and out.

It's been a few days since my last post...

I can say that with the warm weather that we've been having it's been great to see people out and about walking, running, biking and working around their yards.
It was great to see Trinity folks on the trail a few days ago...and random Trinity folks out walking in town and around the neighborhood.

I enjoyed being outside in the flower/herb garden alongside my house on Friday morning as I tackled the weeds and met a few spiders while clearing space for some basil, parsley, thyme, oregano, Thai basil and chives.  It feels great to walk out and see the changes in that space.  There is still more work to be done, but with a good dent in the weeds, it feels great to see the space change shape.  I am also super thankful that I had the opportunity to get things planted before the rains came in yesterday and today.  I only had to water the plants a few times.

Today the gospel was proclaimed in worship as the youth presented The Amazing Grace Race.  They did a fine job singing and teaching us about God's amazing grace that encompasses us all along our life journey.

After worship we had a Parent/Youth Summit.  A handful of parents and youth stayed after worship and shared some lunch, then the youth headed to one room, and the parents to another and each group talked about youth ministries and activities at Trinity.

Two hours later...the adults kept checking in on us.  We (I was with the youth) talked, laughed, shared experiences and ideas about life and the church and the role the church and their faith plays in their lives.  They were honest and full of ideas and suggestions.  They thought about service, building relationships, having fun, meeting new people, bringing in friends and were just able to be themselves.  It was an epic experience for me.  I'm excited and energized about thinking about the future of youth ministry at Trinity. With the help and commitment from this group of youth I pray that we will reach out to others and create more times and spaces for the youth to learn, grow and deepen relationships with God and with one another.

Bring it.
We're ready.

Until next time . . .

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

an email and a text message.

I received this email this morning and promptly asked if I could share it on my blog.  The response was an overwhelming YES!!!!  So here it is,

Subject line: I saw Jesus :) !

I wanted to share with you that we see Jesus every year with the Easter Baskets.  However, this year was particularly special in that we received the huge number of brand new books for the Easter Bags; but in addition to that, when we were at The Children's Home of Reading carrying the bags into the building, the gal that coordinates the project with me from CHOR asked me why the bags were so heavy this year:)?  I went on to tell her that we were given all of these great books, and each child 7-18 years old was getting a Diary of the Wimpy Kid book.  I wish I could share the look on her face!  She was so happy.  She turned to me and said, "Oh my gosh, Kathy!!!  We are really working hard with the kids on reading, and one of their favorite series of books is The Diary of the Wimpy Kid!  They will be so excited to have a copy of their own to keep!"  And in that moment, I knew that Jesus had a plan for those books, and he placed them in our hands to pass on to the children:)!

***** There were folks here during Holy Week to help fill bags with all sorts of donated items, from treats to books to fun little toys.  It's wonderful that the needs within our greater community can be met through the generous gifts people share of their time and their money. 

This week our congregation houses people connected with Family Promise.  We have great volunteers from the congregation who help prepare and share meals as well as spend a night at church to be present with our guests.  Well, this past Sunday several youth came to help prepare the dinner meal and to play with the little pips during and after dinner.  Today a little after noon, I received a text from one of those youth saying, hey, we were told we could come back any night this week to help out, what time should we get there tonight? 

*****Two youth, who had such a great experience on Sunday are ready to come serve again. I love that we (as a congregation) provide opportunities for people to serve others.  You never know how a life will be changed or impacted by a moment of service.  I'm thankful to the youth who where here on Sunday and for those who are returning.  I'm also thankful for the other volunteers who will be here throughout the course of the week. 

I'm thankful too, for the opportunity to share these moments and experiences with others. 

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear. 

I think the best way to share the news of the risen Christ is to tell someone else....


Monday, April 16, 2012

many sightings and a phone call.

This weekend's sermon comes with a post script....

April 15, 2012
2nd Sunday of Easter

Acts 4:32-35
Psalm 133
1 John 1:1-2:2
John 20:19-31

 Please pray with me,

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

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!

And here we go…nothing like a 50 day celebration, right?  I mean Lent was 40 days, technically not counting those Sundays….but Easter…50 days!  Let’s do this! 

Our gospel lesson for this day is heard every year the Sunday after Easter.   It recounts the appearance of the resurrected Jesus to the disciples as they are huddled together in fear and questions and confusion.  And as they retell that encounter to Thomas…they say “We have seen the Lord.”  To which Thomas responds in disbelief.

It is not until a week later that Jesus reappears as they are all gathered and invites Thomas to touch his hands and his side….and that is when Thomas proclaims his belief in the resurrection.  And that Jesus is Lord.

In those early days, Jesus appeared to those who believed…yet were hiding.

Jesus appeared to those who had trouble believing.

Jesus appeared to the frightened the scared and came to be with them in their midst.

And that didn’t happen just once.  The gospel lessons share different accounts of how the risen Christ appeared to those in their homes and those on the road to Emmaus…

And the risen Christ comes to us now.  In our midst…whether we are joyously celebrating with family or we are struggling alone with stresses, illnesses or doubt.

Easter is not just one day...Easter is not just the momentary celebration of Christ being raised from the dead….Easter is not just coming to a wonderful, inspiring worship service, picking up your flowers and being on your merry way.

Easter is coming into worship, being immersed in God’s word, joining in the fellowship at the Lord’s table, sharing in this holy meal, only to be sent back into the hostile world, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to bear witness to the identity of God as revealed in Jesus.

Easter is not something…the celebration of God conquering death, of Christ being raised from the dead is something that impacts and changes who we are here and now…and as our lives continue from this moment forward.

And we have been called tell others about how our lives are changed because of this amazing gift God has given to the whole world.

By the waters that washed over us in baptism, we have been claimed, marked and sent into the world to share the amazing news that Christ is risen!  (He is risen indeed!)  And that makes a huge difference in our lives and our world.

Having the opportunity to journey with the people of Trinity through Lent with our Lenten devotional, I enjoyed hearing the stories of where people (young and old and in between) had seen God at work in their world….it made me think….now that we are in the season of Easter, and we hear about the first sightings of the risen Christ, of those sharing their stories about the resurrection….those disciples telling Thomas, “We have seen the Lord.”

All of this has encouraged my blog entries this season to be about seeing the presence of the risen Lord in the midst of my life here and now.

The question was posed to friends, family and folks at Trinity this week to share examples of the risen Christ in their midst here and how….here are some places that we have seen the Lord.

Sue says, “In my friends especially my (camp) Calumet friends!”

My friend Gary writes, “Lynn & I just got back from Haiti. In spite of the people's extreme poverty, their faithfulness and joy shines through. The Lord is present in these beautiful people!”

Alicia says, “I've seen the Lord many times at this beautiful place...I think you know it....they call it Nawakwa. He's all OVER that place.... :)”

Heidi says, “In all of the little ways from the ducks in the pond in the morning on my way to work, to the beautiful sunset at the end of a long day. From my children's smiles and all of the good that is on their hearts...and from the amazing life that He has blessed me with!”

Anne says, “Yesterday, at the Robesonia Community Blood Drive where blood donors willingly extended their arms to give the gift of life. The room was filled with joy, smiles and positive energy.”

And on Monday, the presence of the risen Lord was here.  As family and friends gathered for a funeral…in the midst of grief and loss…we saw the empty tomb.  In the midst of death, we saw the promise of life eternal…we saw the promise of God conquering death….we saw the promise, comfort and hope that God provides for each and every one of us.  Those gathered were wrapped in the love of the arms and hands that had been pierced on a cross…but those arms and hands belonged to the people in this place.  Those who had gathered to say goodbye to a loved one and to comfort and support the family.  The risen Christ was in our midst as we cried, sang, prayed, laughed and ate.  In the fellowship, comfort, questions and grieving….the risen Christ was here.

Because that’s the other part of seeing the risen Christ in our midst here and now….while so many people shared joyful and celebratory moments, we are called to remember and to proclaim the presence of the risen Lord in the midst of things we cannot understand, in the midst of the death of those both old and young, and illnesses, in the imperfect moments, and in those tough days at work, school or at home…the risen Christ is there as well.

When we speak or write of our personal encounters with Christ, the story of the resurrection grows and continues.  Each installment that we bring to the story is as peculiar and particular as those in the Gospels.  Our story is Acts chapter 29.  If you look in your Bible, you’ll see that the book of Acts ends with chapter 28….and that’s where our chapter begins.  We continue to tell that story of the Lord’s resurrection and how that changes who we are as people of faith living and working and playing in the world around us.

Dr. Alan McPherson, connected with the Presbyterian Church in Canada writes, “Christianity is not best spread by the pages of a Book that people don’t believe, don’t read.  Christianity is best read on the pages of the lives of men and women who love God, and in whose lives it shows…He sends us forth as his Father sent him.  We go in his strength, and not just in his name.”

How are you writing chapter 29 of the book of Acts?

What is your story?  Your experience of the risen Christ in your midst here and now?

And more importantly…who will you tell about it?

Where will you share this moment of seeing the risen Lord in your midst?

Will you post it on Facebook?

Will you share it around the dinner table with your family?

Will you write about it in your blog for others to read?

How and where will you share this message of resurrection?  How and where will you let others know that your life has been claimed and shaped and marked by the sign of Christ?

Because here’s the thing…as we leave this place, you will be reminded to “Go in peace and serve the Lord.”   And I can just guess what the reply will, “Thanks be to God.  We will!”

We will go from this place to serve the Lord, to remember the poor, to see the risen Christ in our midst and to tell others about it.  It’s who we are called to be…and that, my friends, is a pretty amazing thing!  (Something too good to keep to yourself.)

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!

We have seen the Lord….and can tell others about it.

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.

PS...At the 10:45 service on Sunday morning, Pat walked up to Pr. Bill and myself.  It was her birthday this week and here at Trinity, we have a group of folks who make birthday calls.  They call folks to wish them a happy birthday from their Trinity family.  It's a wonderful thing.  Well, this past week Pat was remembering the death of her sister, AnnaMae.  So her phone rings on Saturday, she answers it and hears, "This is AnnaMae, I've called to wish you a Happy Birthday from your Trinity family."   Pat said that it was a wonderful hear her sister's name, to know that folks were thinking of her and knowing that her Trinity family wishes her well.

That was the presence of the risen Lord in worship, yesterday.

May the sightings continue....


Sunday, April 15, 2012

pizza and beer.

So, today was the day to taste the Dead Ringer IPA....a dead ringer of my favorite beer: Bell's Two Hearted.

The fun that comes with reusing bottles means one of these is actually Bell's and the other is Northern Brewer Dead Ringer IPA....a dead ringer because it is identical, if not better (say some) than the Two Hearted. 

The dead ringer is the one on the can see it's darker than it's counterpart.  I can tell you that the aromas were identical.  Both gave off a great hop scent.  (Yum!)  And after several sips of each....I the flavors were spot on.  So the color difference may be from steeping for too long...or something else that happened in our brewing process.  The good news is that it tastes good.  So, no burden to consume it :)   Bottles were opened in PA and in CT and the CT contingency gave it rave reviews!  

In other news I learned that my oven goes up to...

....which is pretty stinkin' hot!  I used the dough I had in the fridge which I used for a round loaf last week, a pita yesterday and thought...hey, let's try it as a pizza dough.  And I'm happy to say the blend of rye, wheat and AP flour works well for a pizza crust.  With this crust, you bake it at a super high heat...and it was done in 8 minutes!


I went with a simple topping of olive oil, fresh oregano, sliced tomato and mozzarella.  I love that this crust has a crunch on the bottom, but is still a bit chewy in the middle.  Since I've started using the pizza stone, my crusts and been quite crisp, but this temp and this dough is a great mix.  I may try the light wheat dough next.

All in all a great evening of homemade pizza and beer.

The only peril associated with making a dead ringer is that I ended up with two beers...oh well, I'm willing to take one (or 2) for the team!

I can say that a full day with worship and confirmation made for some great moments....I'll share the sermon and a great experience in worship this morning tomorrow.

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, April 14, 2012

many missions accomplished! there are a few more things crossed off my house/spring cleaning to-do list.  Thanks to many volunteers at church today.  And that, my friends, is where the risen Christ in my midst was this day.

From gutted Sunday School classrooms, to a deeply cleaned church kitchen, to sorting out board games, and figuring out what to do with all those boxes of Good News Bibles, to spreading fresh soil for new landscaping alongside of the church, to pulling out old shrubs and bushes with axes and saws, to putting up small fences around air conditioning units, to painting church doors to using a super crazy drill to dig holes for fence posts.  Our community and building received a super spring cleaning today.  Not to mention the crew that was there early to prepare breakfast which began at 7am.  I did not grace the church grounds until after 8am  :)

In the midst of touching base with a multitude of volunteers, I tackled the rest of my porch chairs.



And after (with the backdrop of the newly cleaned porch!)

It was fun to paint and take breaks when some of the adults and kids came by for a chat-break during the clean-up.  Good times.

So, I know that parsonage living is not the choice for everyone...but there are moments that are grace-filled.  And so many of those moments have come to me through incredible generosity of parishioners.

This morning, there was nothing outside my side door.  (Well, except for the recycle can, the trash can and the grill.)  Then the hole diggers arrived....and there were posts and levels and many folks measuring and working to get things just right.  Well the basics were there as the work day/morning drew to a close.  My neighbors, members and on the property board took some time to work in their own yard, but the time I headed to worship this evening at 3:30, they were back in my yard.  When I came home from worship, they were still working.  I offered them food.  While I originally offered pizza, I then realized that I had planned on tacos for I asked if that was okay and they said sure.  (They accepted my meager offering of homemade tacos, but only after they were finished.)  So around 7:30, we dined.  It was a simple meal, but we broke 'tortillas' and supped together.  I'm so thankful for folks who work hard and see a project to completion.

Now the side of my house looks like this:

And now, Marley and I curl up and sleep well tonight.
Me, from a long day.
Marley, from a long day of spectating and/or supervising and wishing she was outside.

Until the next time . . .

Friday, April 13, 2012

the list was too long....

While I was enjoying my double fisted breakfast (coffee in one mug, coffee cake in the other) I had one load of laundry in the washer and was making my to-do list for the day. 

Apparently I thought I was invincible, or that the hours in the day would expand to allow me to accomplish multiple tasks....I'm not sure what I was thinking.  Apparently a little too much sugar in that coffee cake, oops.  It was tasty, though.  If you are in the mood for 5 minute coffee cake in a mug, check out this site: coffee cake in a mug. I started making it after only a few sips of coffee and then realized I didn't have any sour cream in the house.  (shame on me.  actually i did have some in the house but it was already turned into french onion dip, which would have made for some awful coffee cake.)  So, I opted for the french vanilla yogurt instead....which after 2 tablespoons of sugar was super sweet!  It's a good thing I didn't try the key lime pie yogurt...or perhaps I should have.

Today I did:
Make it to the bank.
Buy paint & paint one of the porch chairs.  (it looks stellar. the other two will be done soonish)
Two loads of laundry, including bed sheets.
Cleaned off the front porch.
Planted pansies in the stone planters on the porch.
Bought herbs to plant (after the side garden is weeded)
Checked out two thrift shops - fun buys for my sister and myself.
Bought new towels at triple B (fun green ones for the downstairs bathroom & some bath and hand towels for the upstairs bath that match the fun shower curtain and were on uber-clearance so they were super cheap! win. win.)
I bought clams, a fresh baguette and some seafood spread for apps and dinner. 
The apps were scrumptious! Dinner, less so. 
An attempt at pan seared clams on the half shell (recipe from Alton Brown) was a disaster.  The clams were entirely too salty.  It was a bummer really....but luckily, the baguette with the seafood spread, sprinkled with fresh Parmesan and broiled was so good that I just made a second round for dinner.  A perfect pairing with chilled white wine. 

The joy in my day was watching the cat.  First thing this morning was Bunny Watch 2012:

The modern house cat stalks her prey through the impenetrable kitchen window. 

The same thing happened this evening as I preparing dinner. 
So cute. 

Tomorrow comes some weeding, some planting and some more painting.  (or at least some of those) And go for a run.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

birthdays, ice cream and moms that care. the moments of seeing the risen Lord in my midst over the past two days all involves kids.

I have been in conversation with parents lately about their kids.  In the cases this week it was with parents of pre-teens or teens....and let me begin by saying this, I'm definitely not a parent.  So I can listen and offer advice, but I am in no was a permanent fixture in their home seeing all the ins and outs and all that goes along with family life.  That being said, I am so blessed to be a presence in the lives of families, to be there and listen and share and participate and encourage and love.  I saw the risen Lord in the midst of the struggles and challenges that parents and youth face.  The opportunity to learn and grow with them and to be yet another adult in the lives of the youth (because the more the merrier) is truly a blessing and an honor.  There is the reality that life isn't always smooth sailing, but there is the promise that God is with us in the midst of the challenges and struggles and joys and celebrations that is all a part of our life here together.

And today....I wish I had the opportunity to take two pictures.

So, imagine these with me if you will....

I walk out of the house this morning and see the usual crew waiting for the school bus.  The fashion statement this morning was the girl who turned 4 yesterday.  She was waiting with her PopPop and older sister and she was sporting her new pink bicycle shirt (that she got from her aunt yesterday) and the orange, pink and yellow scarf (that I gave her yesterday) and she was happy as a clam in her new outfit.  It was totally smile worthy.

Later in the day I was on my way home from a meeting in Reading.  As I enter Wernersville I come across The Cone.  (The *awesome* ice cream place.)  Well, I can see some boys standing in front of the cone playing trucker honk the best they can.  (Trucker honk is where you shake your arm up and down to make the trucks that pass by blow their horns, I'm sure you're tried it before...go ahead, admit it...and smile.)  So I get closer and realize that I know these boys (middle schoolers) from church!  So I honk & wave frantically....and one of them says..."Pastor Jen!" and they all wave frantically.  I laughed out loud.

I love this place...I love the relationships built within the context of the body of Christ that carries out into our communities and radiates love and laughter and joy to those around us.

May you see these moments around the interactions with others that make you grumbly or happy....because God is in all these moments...reaching out to you and those around you as life goes on.

This was the birthday cupcake delivered to my desk yesterday :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

sleeping in and dusting off the bike.

Okay, in a nutshell, today was a full day of rest and rejuvenation. 
From the splurge of Cap'n Crunch for a nice bike ride with my boyfriend followed by a tasty lunch of splitting a buffalo blue burger, a crispy chicken sandwich and onion rings.... yum. 

But the moment of grace or love that sticks out for me is the purring/snoring cat next to me on the sofa:

This cat knows how to rest. 

Blessings to all....wishing you a moment or a day of rest this week.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Seeing the risen Christ in our midst, here & now.

I'm a double facebooker and blogger....still trying to figure out where the line is between pastor and person.  It's a fine line as being called to serve as a parish pastor is my vocation and is my life...but that struggle to maintain some sense of me as a person and maintaining a social circle outside of the parish is a healthy part of who I am.  But here's the thing, this season (the 50 days of Easter) I feel called to share moments where I have seen the risen Christ in my midst.  The entries over the next 50 days will echo those on my Pastor blog page, but I think the content is for all...parishioners, friends and blog followers.  (I guess the disclaimer is that if you follow both blogs, they will be quite similar this season, perhaps with different color commentary along the way. (Thanks for reading and journeying with me.)

So as we enter the season of Easter...and journey in the light of the empty tomb I hope to share moments where I see the risen Christ in our midst here and now.

We are blessed to celebrate the joy of the resurrection for 50 Days!  (Pretty awesome, right? I mean, who doesn't like a 50 day celebration?)

So yesterday, on Easter Day, I was blessed to walk from the darkness of the tomb into the light of Christ as we began Easter morning worship at 6am.  With the opportunity to celebrate the joy of the resurrection at 4 services yesterday, there were many opportunities to see the risen Christ in our midst now.
The moment that sticks out for me the most was at the 9:15 service.  It was a service that had many families with young children and babies.  The youngest of our brothers and sisters in Christ were so quiet during the service, you may not have noticed their presence.  But as we made it to the intercessory prayers, then things changed.  As we prayed for those in need by name, the assembly was invited to share names in their hearts or on their lips...and that is when a murmur came from the youngest among us.  It wasn't a scream or cries, it was this murmur or hum coming from the infants when they were invited to share prayer concerns.  It was a holy moment.

Today's moment came after a funeral.  I have to tell you, it was amazing to be at a funeral on Easter Monday and to see the empty tomb and hear the words of promise in the resurrection.  At the end of the service, proclaiming the words of life eternal and death being conquered and knowing the family, I was tearing up as we prayed.  Well, as I greeted folks coming into the social hall for the dinner, Logan (a parishioner with special needs and an amazing heart) walked up to me and gave me a hug.  She saw me crying during the service and said, Pastor Jen needs a hug.  (So true.)  Seeing me in the midst of grief and mourning...and reaching out to me...a holy moment of love and grace in the midst of suffering.

The moments surround us...and I invite you to see and share the moments where you see the risen Christ in our midst here and now.

Blessings to all in this Easter season.

Until the next moment of grace . . .