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

re-treat.

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 places...as 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.  

+peace

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.

Before:



After:



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 something....so 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 recipes...book 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, Inc...you 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.  


Thursday, April 18, 2013

sunday's gospel preached on wedneday...

Here's last night's sermon...it may look different on paper, due to the work of the Spirit, but in essence, it is the same.

3rdSunday of Easter
Crossfire
April 17, 2013
John 21:1-19

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, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.

So much in this text…where do we focus?
On the fact that the disciples were fishing….
And at least one of them was fishing naked….
Or the fact that Jesus appeared to them, again helping them to fish….
Or that Jesus sat and ate with them, as sign of his physical presence with them…
Or that Jesus invited Peter into a moment of forgiveness and grace…and unconditional love?

Tonight, I’d like us to focus on the fact that they went back to fishing. 
The disciples went back to what they know…they were fisherman, so they fished. In the wake of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection….being lost, confused, frightened or just lonely, they went back to what they knew….and that was fishing.

So do we….

On Monday, tragedy struck in Boston. I had received a facbook message from Darrell at 1pm that he had finished the marathon in under 3 hours! He was very excited!

At 3:43 pm I received a text message from him that read “We are okay and in hotel room.” I texted back, thanks…did you mean to text someone else? I had thought in the business of post-race celebrations and crowds that he was just trying to get in touch with friends or family at the end of the race.

I was wrong. It was a response to the bombs that went off at the end of the marathon route.

There was fear, tragedy, and heart ache…in Boston that day…

Monday evening and Tuesday all around the world, runners went running. We put wore race jerseys to work, we put on sneakers, we hit the trails we hit the streets, we ran.

Runners went back to the familiar…to run for those couldn’t because they were injured or afraid.

There is comfort in going back to what we know. Surrounded by people, places and faces that bring us comfort, joy, and give us places to laugh and cry.

We live in a broken world. I feel like I don’t even need to say that out loud….because we know this to be true.

Violence, hatred, war, sickness and death. You can see this on 24 hour news channels, get tweets about the latest news, read about it on facebook….we hardly need to say that we live in a broken world because it is displayed before us everywhere.

Yet, we, like the disciples are called, claimed and sent into this world.

On Sunday, not only did we have two baptisms at the late service, we also welcomed in new members….So we baptized and people affirmed their baptisms….

As the babes were washed in the baptismal waters and marked with the sign of the cross we prayed these words… We give you thanks, O God, that through water and the Holy Spirit you give your daughters and sons new birth, cleanse them from sin, and raise them to eternal life.

Sustain Greyson Paul and Molly Jane with the gift of your Holy Spirit; the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of council and might, the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, the spirit of joy in your presence, both now and forever. Amen.

I can say that Molly Jane did not have a happy look on her face…..It’s as if she knew that her life as a baptized Christian would not be an easy one….how telling.

Later in the service as we welcomed in new members…we prayed for God’s blessing:

We give you thanks, O God, that through water and the Holy Spirit you give us new birth, cleanse us from sin, and raise us to eternal life.

Stir up in your people the gift of your Holy Spirit; the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of council and might, the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, the spirit of joy in your presence, both now and forever. Amen

Sound familiar? As we affirm our baptisms, we continue to pray for God’s blessings upon us, because we know the world in which we live.

But the good news is that this is a place to where we can return time and time again…to be splashed with this water, fed with God’s word, nourished with the body and blood of Jesus Christ only to be sent back out into the world to be beacons through which God’s light may shine.

Even in the midst of tragedy and despair, we are called to be the light of the risen Christ in our world…here and now.

So maybe the challenge for us….is how do we make that happen?

How are we living our lives, proclaiming our faith and showing the light of the resurrected Christ to others in our day to day lives?

Yes, how are we living our lives? Proclaiming our faith? Showing the light of the resurrected Christ to others in our day to day lives?

Each of us does so in a different way….whether through a listening ear, or a comforting hug, saying please or thank you, spending the night at Trinity during a family promise week, bringing in food items or sharing your time at the food pantry, tutoring someone, mowing someone’s lawn, speaking up for someone who is being bullied.

How many more can I name?

This is our call…our vocation...

I want to share something from the 1954 Evanston Assembly of the World Council of Churches:

“The time has come to make the ministry of the laity explicit, visible and active in the world. The real battles of the faith today are being fought in factories, shops, offices, and farms, in political parties and government agencies, in countless homes, in the press, radio and television, in the relationship of nations.

Very often it is said that the church should‘go into these spheres’; but the fact is, that the church is already in these spheres in the persons of its laity.”

1954….things haven’t changed too much, have they? I think the only thing to change is add the internet….to places where the real battles of faith are being fought today….

Our vocation is to be the light….be the church in the world….. not take sermons out to the world but to be the light of christ be who we are…the church….in the places we already are. The classroom, the stage, the sports fields, the office, our homes, the grocery store, wherever we find ourselves is where we are called to be the church.

But the good news, friends, is that we are already in those spheres….we are already active and a part of the world around us. And by living in the light of an empty tomb, by being present with others, serving others and giving voice to the voiceless, we are letting Christ’s light shine around us.

May this place continue to be a place where we are forgiven, fed and nourished and sent, so that our light may shine before others…and glorify our Father in heaven.

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.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

community through food.

We gathered around tables this evening for dinner followed by worship.

It was around the table, that I was blessed with the community of faith and the joy of family.

As we ate baked potatoes topped with toppings galore...we enjoyed the buffalo chicken dip on them, too!

We thought about the many uses for this amazing dip....here are a few.

Topping for a baked potato.
Put it in a quesadilla.
Put it in an omelet.
Eat it with tortilla chips.
A nacho topping.
Put it in a wrap.
A tasty schmear on a burger....or a bagel.
Have it on some waffles...you know, chicken and waffles with a twist?
Put it in a bread bowl.
Eat it with celery and carrot sticks.
Use it to make mac 'n cheese.
Put it in a crepe.
Put it on a pizza, top it with just a bit of mozzarella, and when it comes out of the oven top it with some blue cheese and diced celery :)
As the hollandaise sauce on your eggs Benedict.

These are just a few.... if you have some other ideas, please share!!

And enjoy.

PS.  Here's the recipe I used:

3 cans cooked chicken
3/4 C. Franks Hot Sauce
1 block of cream cheese
1 block of Neufchatel cheese
2 C shredded cheddar cheese

In a skillet I heated the chicken and hot sauce.  When they were warmed through, I added the 2 blocks of cheese.  When that was fully mixed, I added 1 1/2 cups of the cheddar cheese and mixed thoroughly.  At that point you can put it in a crock pot for 3 mins, or bake it for 20-30 mins at 350.  I added the last 1/2 cup of cheddar as a topping at the end.



Monday, April 15, 2013

speechless...nearly.

I'm not really sure how to blog tonight, it may be more of a stream of consciousness post as I think and pray and weep over the events that occurred in Boston today.  

So many thoughts, as a runner, I know what it's like to prepare for the big race.  While Boston has not been on my radar or plan, I understand the training, preparation, rest, nourishment and mental prep that goes into preparing for a distance race.  For those who did prepare for this day my heart goes out to you.  I can't imagine how the events of the day impacted your run (whether you finished or not.)  I give thanks that Darrell and Tim (friends of mine who were in the race today) and their families are safe.  That's the most important thing.  

As I began to see the coverage on the news, I was able to watch the video from the finish line only once.  Tears came to my eyes as runners were shaking and falling due to the impact of the explosion.  As reports came streaming in from friends and family I wanted to keep checking the facebook posts....and then I became overwhelmed.  The mixed blessings of social media and the web is our instant access to just about everything and everyone. I turned on the tv and went for the Food Network.  I needed to take a step away from all the information pouring in.  It would have been possible to watch coverage all afternoon...but I knew that would not be a good choice.  Don't get me wrong, it was great to know that friends and family were safe and that people were posting ways to reconnect in the city and places to go for help.  But to just read and get sucked in, just isn't healthy either.  Because as much as our online community is supportive....we need to connect to the ones we see face to face.  (I realize I'm blogging this...as part of online community....and I do see the value in that, but I also want to stress and emphasize the face-to-face communities in which we live.  

I was truly thankful for the Stewardship Committee meeting tonight.  We gathered to talk about church things, but we began in prayer.  We were the presence of the risen Christ gathered together, in the midst of tragedy, to talk, to shed tears and to struggle with our lives of faith in a world with violence.  We talked about how what shakes us up in an event like this is our lack of safety.  That in places we once felt safe, that is what has been taken away....and that is a scary place to be.  

Just yesterday in my Sunday school class, we talked about how real it is to struggle with the situations that we face in our day to day lives, even in light of the empty tomb....and that even walking in the promise of the resurrection, we struggle to understand why these things happen.  I shared that sometimes all we can lean on are those words of hope and promise.  Yet today, it is hard for me to do so.  And so today, I give thanks for the gift of community.  That some of us gathered together for a meeting and were able to voice our frustration, anger and fear and pray because of what happened in Boston today.  

There are no answers...although some will come at some point.  I continue to pray that as we grieve and mourn and begin to pick up the pieces that we are able to do so in light of the empty tomb, the promise of the resurrection and the words of grace and forgiveness.  There is so much hurt in Boston this night and our world every day.  May we continue to seek God's presence in our lives and let that light shine so that others may see it and know of the love and grace God has for each and every one of us.  

So take time this day and in the next few, to do things or be with people who help you to see the light of the empty tomb.  Hug your kids, talk with your neighbors, be together offering words of forgiveness and grace.  You, too, will be the light of Christ to others.  

Blessings of love and peace to all...

Let us pray,
Gracious God, this brings tears to my eyes. Wrap your arms around those who are hurt, those who are dying, those who are rescuing, those who are still trying to connect with loved ones, those who are scared, those who are safe and those who turn to violence.  We are all in need of your love, grace, healing and forgiveness.  Amen.  


P.S.  This was a blog post....which reaches out to a community online.  I'm still struggling with how to balance online and face-to-face community.  Yet, if this blog speaks to you and you feel connected, comforted, challenged, touched....I'm thankful.  I encourage your thoughts, responses, questions, comments or concerns.  But I also challenge you to think off-line, and to connect with people face-to-face, as well.  Wherever your groups of support are...church, the gym, the coffee shop, your dining room table, the grocery store....engage with others, talk to each other....continue to build community.  

P.P.S.  Somehow Marley knew it was important to be close tonight...


Monday, April 8, 2013

For Judy

Sometimes I just plain forget that I blog....and for that I apologize.

I definitely go through phases where I'm blogging early and often and then there are almost 2 months of down time.  I could blame Lent, but that wouldn't do any good.

I was thinking of 30 days of blogging...but some days I don't have much to share except the color of my socks or the length of my day.  Believe you me, sometimes the socks would make a better posting.  But I was reminded today, by a dear friend, that I do blog.  So here we go....I just want to say that I'm happy this day, to be in the presence of friends from all different times of my life.  The things we share, the new friendships being built and just the opportunity for fellowship, worship, a time to learn and many times to laugh.

Good conversations were had, too, even though we may not have heard all of them....

This 3 day retreat/continuing ed is a welcome time for me...for all of the above that I just listed.  For continuing ed, fellowship, laughter, sharing stories, rest and some time away from life in the parish.  It is a welcome break post-Easter and has already given me food for thought for the many ways ministry happens in the parish.

Until the next post, which will hopefully be in the next day or two....


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Last night's sermon.

February 20, 2013
Lenten Mid-Week Service
Hebrews 3:7-15

Please pray with me,

As you led the Israelites through the wilderness, as you were with Joseph and Mary as they journeyed to Bethlehem, and as you journeyed with Jesus to the cross….you are with us now. Guide our hearts, minds and bodies on this Lenten journey. Continue to turn us toward you, our light and our path, guiding us every step of the way. In Jesus’ name, amen.

At this point, I read the book Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. If you don't have a copy click Here and you can have it read to you! (It's worth a listen.)

It is written in Hebrews, Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today’, so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end.

It’s so easy to get angry and upset, to stomp our feet and shake our fists.

William Willamon writes, “Anger is a natural, necessary response in the face of injustice. It is an acknowledgement that this is not the world as it is meant to be, not the world as God intended. The anger should be expressed, preferable in church, in prayer, in conversation with God. We have a God who is good enough and great enough to receive our anger, to take even the most raw human emotions and weave them into his purposes. Anger can be expressed, but ought not be acted upon without the greatest of care……Gross injustice, great anger, ought to be given to god as our offering, our confession that we have come to a place in our lives where we are unable to fix that which afflicts us.” (Sinning Like a Christian p.72)

Hear that again, anger ought to be brought to God as our offering, our confession that we have come to a place in our lives where we are unable to fix that which afflicts us.

Anger may be that place where we most need to be reminded of the cross and God’s presence in our lives. That anger is not something we can respond to on our own…that this is a time in our lives and our hearts that we need peace.

Tonight was ask God to create in us….peace. In doing that, we offer up to God the knowledge and the confession that we cannot fix the problems that surround us.

When we ask God to create peace in ourselves…we are giving up the anger to God….saying we know we can’t deal with it….but know that we have it and know that we need your presence here and now as we express it.

As this time, I invite everyone, starting with the younger ones up front to come and offer your stone to the cross….may this be our confession and our offering of our anger to God. May we do it quietly as we think about things that cause us anger….of that keep us from feeling peace.

As we give this up, we create space for peace in our hearts, our homes, our lives and our community.

As you depart from worship this night, you are invited to take a stone from the basket in the narthex….take a stone home with you, keep it with you in your pocket, or place it on your tableaux with the ash cross, as a reminder that God is with us in all of our emotions and wishes us to have peaceful hearts, yet it is so easy to have our hearts harden. So may a stone and a cross be your daily reminder that you, that I, that we cannot handle life on our own. God is always present. May we take time this Lent to return to the cross, return to opportunities to see and bring to life God’s relationship with us.

Let us pray,

Gracious God, we come before you this day praying for the peace. Create in us clean and peaceful hearts O God, may we release to you our anger and our pain….and may we know that you can handle it…that you are ready for it….and that you will continue to hold us, listen to us and love us no matter what.

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

evil

Today's word: evil.

I had a hard time with this one.

Part of the reason is because I was thinking about my homily for worship this evening....and the theme was Create in us....Peace.  We handed out stones....and my homily focused more on our own anger...and how we need to let go of that so there is room in our hearts for peace.

I'll probably post the homily tomorrow.

But I was so focused on anger....evil seemed to slip my mind.

But here's the picture for the day:



Here are the stones that we left at the foot of the cross.....but there are still some in the basket....some were taken home, as a reminder that there will and are times when we will be angry....but we're not alone in it.  God is ready to hear about our anger....ready to receive it....and remain with us in the midst of it.

When I think about evil...I think about the times when we keep that anger penned up and turn to violence or turn in on ourselves instead of offering the anger and the frustration up to God....

My prayers this day are for those who struggle with anger...and for those who do not feel as if they can express it, or do not have safe places to let go of it.

Until next time . . .


Friday, February 15, 2013

see

The word for day 3 is see.

I did plenty of driving today, to hang out with 2 awesome women. An old friend and a new one. Good times were has all day.

As I looked in the rear view mirror. I saw the reflection of the road in my sunglasses. It was super cool. I could see what was in front of me and what was in the mirror.

At a stoplight I tried to capture what I saw.

Here's to being able to see where we have been and were we are going.

Until the next picture.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

return

As soon as I realized the word of the day was return, I couldn't seem to get 'return to the Lord your God, for he is patient and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love....'

So I looked and looked today for something to 'fit' this verse.

And I looked and looked....continually thinking about returning.

Sadly, I was driving when I saw a sky full of geese in multiple v formations.  I thought, oh man, they are totally returning to somewhere....but by the time I got to the parking lot they were out of range.

So, instead I went with this one...


Tonight I returned back to a meal I made for the first time last week - simple risotto...and it was just as good this time.  I'm happy to know that it's something I can make on a weeknight and still enjoy.

I have also returned to morning devotions....but that's a tech free time of the day....so no pictures of that....

I will also be returning to a Valentine's Day tradition of a glass of red wine, some chocolate and Casablanca.  Isla couldn't return to Rick....but they'll always have Paris.

Until the next picture . . .

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Who am I?


So it's the first day of Lent.

I received a post on Facebook from a friend who was asked by a co-worker if I was eating meat today.
Let me just say that there was a time when I refrained from things in Lent.  When I was a kid I gave up Brussels Sprouts (I hated them when I was a kid, so it wasn't something that I was truly missing.)  As I got older I tried to give up things or refrain from things that I enjoyed.  Looking back, I'm not so sure I really got the point.  Thing about Lent now...I'm more focused on taking time this season to think about the things that separate me from God and looking for ways to allow more time for me to think, pray and and act in ways that remove the things that get in the way of seeing God at work in my life and sharing that with others.

The first thing I did was to get a book for my Lenten Devotions.  I ordered 40 Day Journey Julian Norwich from Amazon and it's kick starting each day with a writing from Julian, some meditation time and questions, some scripture, some journal prompts and a closing prayer.  It made for an early morning, but it's a routine I'm happy to get back into.

The other addition to my days this season is a Lenten Photo-a-day Challenge from rethinkchurch.org
Each day there is a word or phrase to guide your daily photo.

Here's the list from their website:


So as I went about my day today....I kept asking myself....who am I?
I thought runner, child of God, pastor, daughter, sister, friend, colleague, someone who loves chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, listener, fiance, home brewer, sinner, saint, cat owner....and the list goes on and on...and I thought of all these pictures I could take of stuff that I have that represent who I am...or potential self portraits....and as I walked home from the Ash Wednesday service this evening (in the snow) I had to catch some flakes on my tongue...I couldn't help it!  So....in the midst of it, I decided a photo was in order.

Who am I?  This girl....



One who takes time to find joy in the day and the weather....and just stop to catch snowflakes.

Who knows where the rest of the photos will take me over the next 40 days....but there's potential for silly, thought provoking, God revealing, or all of the above and then some.

See you in the next photo . . .