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Showing posts from November, 2008

Thanksgiving

Thursday, 27 November, was Thanksgiving. I had two friends over to my house, plus my husband and I. It was the year of the slow-cooking turkey. We discovered our oven was about 50 degrees off, so the turkey took about 5 hours to cook. We ended up eating all the side dishes and then playing a game and then having turkey and dessert. It was good time.

In place of my usual Friday Five, I'm making a list of things that I am thankful for this year. It's not a definitive list, but a list of the top things for which I feel extremely grateful.

1. I'm grateful for my husband, Rob. He's such an amazing person, caring, smart and fun to be with all the time. This year is our first whole year together ever. Between school and Iraq, we've spent a lot of time apart, but we've finished 12 consecutive months (what would be the first months together in our marriage). There were some adjustments, but I'm so glad to have him in my life and I'm grateful for every day we h…

Essential Passage #6 (Psalm 137)

Psalm 137 (NRSV)

By the rivers of Babylon—
there we sat down and there we wept
when we remembered Zion.
2On the willows* there
we hung up our harps.
3For there our captors
asked us for songs,
and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’

4How could we sing the Lord’s song
in a foreign land?
5If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither!
6Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy.
7Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites
the day of Jerusalem’s fall,
how they said, ‘Tear it down! Tear it down!
Down to its foundations!’
8O daughter Babylon, you devastator!
Happy shall they be who pay you back
what you have done to us!
9Happy shall they be who take your little ones
and dash them against the rock!
Oh, Psalm 137... so long neglected, so terrifying, so full of (real) human emotions. In the midst of the psalms of praise and psalms of lament, there are tucked a few p…

Mix and Stir Friday Five

Songbird from Revgalblogpals writes, "In a minor domestic crisis, my food processor, or more precisely the part you use for almost everything for which I use a food processor, picked the eve of the festive season of the year to give up the ghost. A crack in the lid expanded such that a batch of squash soup had to be liberated via that column shaped thing that sticks up on top."

Can you tell this is not my area of strength?

Next week, I'm hosting Thanksgiving. I need your help. Please answer the following kitchen-related questions:

1) Do you have a food processor? Can you recommend it? Which is to say, do you actually use it?

I do own a Kitchenaid mixer with food processing attachments, similar to the one below, but in white. My now- husband got it for me the very first Christmas that we were dating. We lived in Nome and he had to make a trip into Anchorage for his job. He had heard me coveting (!) another woman's and so he thoughtfully bought one for me and brought it ba…

Essential Passage #5 (Mark 9:14-29)

This basis for the Essential Passages series is here. (Click the red word)

Mark 9: 14- 29 (New King James Version)

And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him. And He asked the scribes, “What are you discussing with them?”

Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.”

He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.

So He asked his father, “How long has this b…

Use Your Talents (Sermon 11/16)

Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Matthew 25:14-30


History and church tradition tells us that Matthew, the writer of today’s gospel, was a tax collector. It’s hard not to wonder if he didn’t receive some kind of kickback or bonus from the 1st-century equivalent of the dental industry. Matthew’s phrase “weeping and gnashing of teeth” appears six times in the gospel, usually combined with someone being thrown into the outer darkness.

When this phrase occurs, it seems to overshadow everything else. We no longer hear the phrase “enter into the joy of your Master”. We forget Paul’s comfort to the Thessalonians, “God has destined us not for wrath, but for obtaining salvation…” With the story of the wedding feast, the bridesmaids and the talents, everyone immediately asks, like the disciples on the night of the Last Supper, “Is it me? Lord, is it me?”

Am I the one without the robe? Would I be a foolish bridesmaid, out of oil and out of luck? Am I the servant who buried t…

Friday Five- Remembrance Day

The Friday Five prompts come from this website.


Earlier this week the U.S. celebrated Veterans' Day (11/11), known in many other countries as Remembrance Day. At this time last year I was commuting to a postdoc in Canada, and I was moved by the many red poppies that showed up there on people's lapels in honor of the observance. The poppies simply honor the sacrifice and dedication of those who have followed their consciences by serving--sometimes dying--in the military.

This week's Friday Five invites reflection on the theme of remembrance, which is also present in the feasts of All Saints, celebrated in many liturgical churches on November 1, and All Souls--known in Latin@ cultures as the Day of the Dead--celebrated in some the following day.

1. Did your church have any special celebrations for All Saints/All Soul's Day?

My congregation had a special liturgy for All Saints and we lit candles in the front of the sanctuary, remembering those who have died. The number…

Don't mind if I do

I just got back from a clergy retreat in this peaceful location. It was a very short retreat (or it felt that way), but I got some much needed rest and refreshment. I allowed my mind to wander and travel some paths it usually misses in my hurried daily mental jogging down the same roads most of the time.

A few weeks ago, a woman in my congregation with some developmental difficulties gave a great response when the bread was offered to her during Holy Communion. As I extended the Body of Christ to her and said, "The body of Christ, given for you." She smiled and took the piece and said, "Don't mind if I do."

This response made me smile at the time, but it brings ever more joy to my heart when I think about it. As hard as I might work (as do those around me), there are times for holy rest. Not just the occasional retreat, but also in our day to day lives- Christ waits for us to come out of the pig pens (see the Prodigal Son story) of our stress and hurry and run do…

Essential Passage #4 (Genesis 32:22-32)

Genesis 32:22-32 (NRSV)

The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me.’ So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ Then the man said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel,* for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.’ Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel,* saying, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.’ The s…

Essential Passage #3 (John 20:19-31)

The third passage in my "50 essential passages" is John 20:19-31. This is the first Bible passage I ever preached on, but there are so many treasures here... possibly a thousand sermons could be written about this and enough would not have been said.

Here's the passage from The Message translation:

19-20Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, "Peace to you." Then he showed them his hands and side.
20-21The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: "Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you." 22-23Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. "Receive the Holy Spirit," he said. "If you forgive someone's sins, they're gone for good. If you don't forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?" 24-25But Thomas, sometimes called the …

Essential Passage #2 (Judges 9:7-15)

In my post on 11/3, I speculated on what I might choose as the 50 most essential passages of the Bible. I'm going to attempt to choose my 50. Today's passage is Judges 9:7-15 (NRSV)

89101112131415When it was told to Jotham, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim, and cried aloud and said to them, “Listen to me, you lords of Shechem, so that God may listen to you. The trees once went out to anoint a king over themselves. So they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ The olive tree answered them, ‘Shall I stop producing my rich oil by which gods and mortals are honored, and go to sway over the trees?’ Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’ But the fig tree answered them, ‘Shall I stop producing my sweetness and my delicious fruit, and go to sway over the trees?’ Then the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us.’ But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I stop producing my wine that cheers gods and mortals, and go to sway over the trees?’…

All Saints Sermon (11/2)

One of the most difficult things about coming in as a new pastor is realizing all the people that I did not get to meet. I hear great stories about the people who were in this congregation, how they shaped the life of this church, how they shaped your lives. Now they have gone on to their great reward and I do not get to meet them. The people who come to Hope now do not get to meet them.

But their stories are here and their work lives on, the work of Nina Morris, Robert Jester, Bernice Means, Audrey Stafford, Mae Peterson, Dave Bristol, Sarah Pennewell and Frank Wince continues in the efforts we make to become the church God calls us to be. We hear God’s call not only through the Word, but also through the people who taught us about the Word, through whom the Word was revealed to us.

However All Saints Day is not only a memorial day, a day in which we recall the beloved of God who are no longer physically in our midst. This is also a day when we are challenged to continue in the…

50 Most Essential Bible Passages

I recently purchased an album called "The 50 Most Essential Pieces of Classical Music". While I'm sure there are many who would argue what makes the cut in that list, I began to think (while listening to some essential classical) about the 50 most Essential Bible passages.

Of course, that's a highly subjective list. And what makes a Bible "passage"? A verse? More than one verse, but less than a chapter? What makes a passage essential? A mention of Christ? Law and gospel? And 50? Is that limiting or too expansive?

In the coming weeks, I think I will try to list what are my 50 essential Bible passages and give some details. I encourage you to try to do the same, even if you don't write them down- ponder them in your heart.

1. Romans 8:31-39 (All of Romans 8 is fantastic, rhetorically, theologically, fantastic. Seriously, I read it and weep!)

323334What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold hi…