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Showing posts from August, 2008

Hats On for Her

I spent a lot of time today looking for a hat.

My grandmother died very suddenly yesterday (8/28). She was shopping for groceries and may have had a massive stroke. She was dead almost instantly. In addition to the shock and sadness of the event, I was overwhelmed today with trying to make arrangements to get to the East Coast for her funeral on Sunday; hence, the search for a hat.

My grandmother was Jewish and it's appropriate for women to wear hats in the synagogue as a part of sign of respect. It's also okay not to wear one, but I had a mission. My grandmother really liked nice clothes. She appreciated being dressed up and she appreciated the effort others would put into looking nice. She was very accomplished woman- a Ph.D, three children, owned a home... She always, always said what she thought- especially about what one was wearing. A hat, for me, was necessary for this funeral.

Despite our religious differences, my grandmother was very supportive of my becoming…

Labor Day Friday Five

Recently I joined a ring of blogging women (and men!) pastors; the link is here. Every Friday, they post five themed questions- just to stir the pot and get us thinking a little bit differently. I'm going to try to participate, so here goes...


Here in the USA we are celebrating the last fling of the good ol' summertime. It is Labor Day weekend, and families are camping, playing in the park, swimming, grilling hotdogs in the backyard, visiting amusement parks and zoos and historical sites and outdoor concerts and whatever else they can find to help them extend summer's sun and play just a little bit longer.

It is supposed to also be a celebration of the working man and woman, the backbone of the American economy, the "salt-of-the-earth neices and nephews of Uncle Sam. With apologies to those in other countries, this is a Friday Five about LABOR. All can play. Put down that hammer, that spoon, that rolling pin, that rake, that pen, that commentary, that lexicon, and let&#…

Restlessness

Today we observe the feast day of St. Augustine. A theologian of the early church, Augustine's life has been much chronicled- from his early debauchery to his later dedication. Much of the significant theology of the Reformation stemmed from the writings of Augustine as well.

I have a quote from him that I have been pondering for many months:
"Thou madest me for thyself and my heart is restless until it repose in thee."

There are several things I like about this: the acknowledgment of God as creator and of creation and created beings having a purpose for God. I also appreciate the description of restlessness.

Our hearts do wander. We wrestle over our control issues, our agonies and ecstasies, and our hopes and fears. We repeatedly forget that we are not God and the One who is (God) waits in everlasting welcome for us.

As we struggle, we look for the equilibrium, the balance, between accepting God's mystery and seeking out further answers. Somewhere in there, w…

Evil

My devotional for today was titled "Evil", which immediately intrigued me because I have been thinking about the presence of evil and sin in the world a lot this week. This week's gospel contains Jesus' famous words, "Get thee behind me, Satan." That phrase has churned up different thoughts and emotions about Satan's work, presence and purpose in the world.

When people ask about sin or about the forces that oppose God, I admit that sometimes I am at a loss for how to explain this. In truth, the presence of evil and God's allowance of it in this world is another mystery of our faith (like the presence of God in the sacraments or the resurrection). Some people aren't very willing to embrace "it's a mystery" as a real answer to their questions, but in the life of faith- sometimes that's the only answer we have.

Theologian Frederick Buechner had this to say about evil: "Christianity... ultimately offers no theoretica…

We Confess (Sermon 8/24)

Below is my introductory sermon for the Lutheran Church of Hope. I prayed about this sermon for a long time and thought about it for many weeks before I managed to get one word on paper. It was interesting to deliver it to people I don't know well and who don't know me well yet either and yet we are all living together in hope for what is to come.


Isaiah 51:1-6; Psalm 138; Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:13-20

We Confess

It was very difficult to know where to begin with this sermon. There are things you want to know about me and things I want to know about you. We are looking at one another and wondering what the next two years will bring. There are lots of new phrases that we keep hearing and keep using over and over. In our newsletters, in our conversations, all around us we hear about “change” and about “transition”.

Though these two things often happen near one another, change and transition are two very different phenomena. Change means something different than before; …

Blue Ribbons

I spent a lot of time last night getting plants and baked goods ready to drive to the State Fair grounds today. It was only last year that I discovered the joy of entering the competitions and seeing what would happen. One of my plants won a blue ribbon last year and I've spent the months since pointing that plant out to visitors as my "blue ribbon plant".

Yet I have many more plants that are healthy and in great shape. Some of them will never be blue ribbon winners at the fair because they are too large for entry into the container-grown plant competitions. Aren't they as good (or maybe better) than my blue ribbon plant?

Sometimes we categorize people in the same way. Everyone knows a few "blue ribbon people"- who are so creative, smart, caring or whatever that their achievements have received lots of external recognition. We often discuss their accomplishments as a way of covering what we perceive to be our own shortcomings. Maybe our school wasn…

Renewal

This blog has been quiet for a few weeks as I have had a little "vacation" and made a transition from my internship at Gloria Dei to the position as pastor at the Lutheran Church of Hope. Of course, it's not all about me- both those congregations have had their own transitions as well.

One of the things I have been remembering lately is a passage from Revelation (that book in the back of the Bible): "And the one seated on the throne said, 'See, I am making all things new... I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life..." (21:5a, 6)

Now I could exegete, or take apart, those verses all day, but mostly I've been considering the renewal aspect God's work. Though our lives have many beginnings and endings, in reality- all things are flowing from the good and creative work of our God. The ministry of congregations does not start over with a new pastor or a …