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Showing posts from March, 2011

I Miss You

Tonight I was reflecting on the prophet Samuel at the beginning of 1 Samuel 16. God asks Samuel how long he intends to grieve for Saul. If you only pick up in the middle of Samuel, it's easy to forget that Saul is still alive at this point. He's just departed so greatly from God's vision (and Samuel's) for him, that God is asking Samuel to get out his anointing kit and go get another king for Israel.

Grieving someone who is still living is hard and painful.

In this Lenten season, I told myself I wanted to focus on forgiveness with regard to a specific situation in my life. In 2009, I had a couple very traumatic life events and someone to whom I was very close abruptly left my life without explanation or goodbye. I haven't heard from or seen this person since.

I've been picking at the scab over this emotional wound. Playing over the events in my mind, wondering what I could have changed, what I should have anticipated, what was my fault, what wasn't.

This wa…

The Woman Speaks Out (A Sermon on John 8:2-11)

Lent 3 27 March 2011
John 8:2-11
            Many times people assume that a group of religious men stormed my house and caught me in flagrante delicto, but it wasn’t exactly like that. I’ve heard rumors that some assume I was trapped, set up by a religious man and his buddies, part of a scheme to trap that man, Jesus. It wasn’t like that either.
            The truth is, I was committing adultery, but not quite in the way that you might think. According to our law, which we understood to be from God, when a woman’s husband died, her husband’s brother would take her as a wife. Basically, the intention was that any male child she would conceive, then, would inherit in her husband’s name. Thus, property would stay within the family. Property included me, a wife.
            My husband had died and his brother was away. I knew the law and I grieved my husband, but I also loved another. A childhood friend was now a widower and we wished to be joined together. We had begun to discuss it and, …

Reframing Hope (A Book Review)

I read Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation by Carol Howard Merritt for a recent continuing education event. I struggled with the book, initially, for two reasons. When I started, I felt like this was one of those books that helpfully tells pastors everything about church is changing and that's it. No help for how to cope with change, how to educate around and love into change. The other reason I felt frustrated was that I was holding a book in my hands about ministry to 20-30 somethings (or so it seemed). If I could get them to meet me somewhere, anywhere, I'd be glad to try new ministries with them, but...

So I dragged my feet about reading the book until on the plane flight for the event. Once I started to read, I felt drawn in to Merritt's style and narrative. She actually has been a pastor of a small congregation and is now in a larger context. I resist reading books where I feel like the person is talking at me and Merritt's voice is the exact oppos…

Songs in a Slow Season, or Why I Love Lenten Hymns

I received a message today from a source who shall remain nameless asking, "Why are there no good Lenten hymns?"

Aside from the fact that I was greatly anticipating singing Fanny Crosby's "Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross", I also took umbrage on behalf of Lenten hymns in general. Greatly maligned in moderns times, I often hear, "It's better than what we sing in Lent," with regard to some hymn that has yet to reach popular heights.

I like the Lenten hymns and their deeply resonant lyrics. What else reaches the lyrical heights of "In the Cross of Christ I Glory": "When the woes of life o'er take me, hopes deceive and fears annoy, never shall the cross forsake me; lo, it glows with peace and joy."? Can you honestly say you feel nothing when you sing, "I Want Jesus to Walk With Me"?

I realized today that I think I prefer the Lenten hymns to the Advent ones. In Advent, we sing about a hope that is still to be fulfilled, …

Blowing in the Wind (Sermon 3/20)

Lent 2, 11A 20 March 2011
1 Timothy 2:1-12; John 3:1-17
So this is the first time I’ve ever preached on this text. Since my preaching life began within the Lutheran tradition and this passage doesn’t appear in the lectionary, then it’s never come up for me. Of course, I’ve had many heartfelt discussions regarding these verses. Ironically, many people focus so heavily on “Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent” that they forget the fun verse “Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.” I’ve had many people express concern for my salvation because of my sense of call to ministry, but no one ever told me that I needed to pop out a kid in order to cinch a place in heaven. (Of course, I did have a caesarean, so I hope that counts.)
            We could very easily dismiss this passage of Scripture. By what method? Historical critic…

Friday Five: Spring Forward Edition

Friday Five: Springing Forward Jan writes: Whether we liked it or not, we all "sprang forward" with the change to daylight savings time in the USA this past Sunday. There is lightness and brightness slipping in as spring approaches, so let us consider what is springing forth in our lives right now.

Name 5 things that are springing forth, possibly including :
what you hope forAt this time of night, I usually hope for a little more energy either to do something I think I should (laundry) or something I want (read). Usually the latter wins. I'm also hoping for some continued enthusiasm (from myself and the congregation) around the Lenten sermons on non-lectionary texts. I'm also hoping to figure out how to get in more training for the triathlon I'm signed up for in June.  what you dreadWriting my sermon tomorrow. I don't like writing sermons on Saturdays, but some weeks that just happens. It's not the sermon writing that I dread, it's my fear that it won…

God and Bodies (Sermon, Lent 1A)

Song of Songs 5:1-6a; Matthew 4:1-11
The book most of us grew up calling Song of Solomon is now more frequently being referred to as Song of Songs. When we called it Song of Solomon, we did so because we thought it was written by Solomon or at least attributed to him. However, as the book has begun to be more deeply read and examined, we’ve come to realize that at least 60% of the book is written from a woman’s point of view.
            In fact, though the action of the book can be a little difficult to follow at times, the female narrator has a distinct voice as she makes her case for being allowed to be with the man she loves. We may long have attributed the book to Solomon because it’s kind of a racy book and, according to biblical sources, Solomon knew his way around a, ahem, bedchamber. (See 1 Kings 11:3)
            That worried feeling that you having right now, the one that I might start talking about sex, that feeling has accompanied biblical interpreters for years when th…

Theodicy, the Odyssey

Theodicy is the fancy name for those late-night, exhaustion or substance-fueled, discussions wherein one tries to balance the goodness of God (or the presumed goodness of God) with the existence of evil. The same name is also applied to the philosophical or theological study of the same. I know no one who hasn't had this discussion, so I hardly think formal rules apply.

In the wake of the  8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan, many people are having this conversation. Even as we pray, "Lord, in your mercy remember your creation", we wonder how this can happen. I know some of my brothers and sisters in faith, even now, are sorting through the history of Japanese sins, but many others are already collecting or sending funds, supplies and heartfelt prayers.

Does God cause these things to happen? Answering this question would take me into the realm of apologetics, the theological field of explanation. I'm neither qualified nor able to be God's apologist.

Here's why:…

Collar Me Purple

So, I've taken on the Lenten discipline of wearing my clerical collar. I've debated this before and I did promise a parishioner that I would wear it for a week, if he wore the pectoral cross for a week. He did, mostly, so I will, mostly.

I've even taken to wearing an Anglican collar, so I can't just slip the tab out. I'll be wearing during my working hours until I go home, but not on my days off (unless I go to a work function). 

I've resisted the collar previously for the following reasons: 1) Actual physical discomfort. Both the tab and the full circle are close fitting around the neck. In addition to feeling a little tight, it makes me hot. I hate being hot. The Anglican collar has an additional, hair-shirt quality that comes from the collar stud that pokes into the middle of my throat.

2) In cognito. It's much easier to go in and out of the grocery store, car dealership, Sears, gas station without people asking questions or staring. And it does happen.

The time has come, the time is now (Ash Wednesday Sermon)

Ash Wednesday, a 9 March 2011, (LCOH/TUMC)

            Ah, Lent. It’s that time of year again. What are some of the words that come to mind when you think of this season? 
            We do tend to think of guilt, preparation, longing, darkness, deprivation. I don’t know about you, but those are January and February words to me- winter words. But here we are with a Lenten springtime, where we’re already almost to 12 hours of daylight. It’s hard to focus on darkness when we know the sun is coming.
            And I think that’s the struggle of Lent for Easter people. Easter people are people who already live in the light of Easter. (That would be us.) It’s hard to think about darkness when we know the Son, that is Jesus, is coming. Since we already know the joy of resurrection, why do we have this slow season, these darker songs, this heaviness?
            Lent feels like a burden, no matter how we try to spin it. It plays on our sense of guilt, our uncertainty about grace, our discom…

Perfection, I quit you

Back in the office now after the Big Event 4.0, a RevGalBlogPals continuing education event, I'm a little overwhelmed by all I learned. I'm trying to absorb, to let things settle into my guts, but it's hard to do as I run full tilt into Ash Wednesday.

I met women whom I'd only previously "known" through their blogs. I laughed, cried, pondered, and wondered how to bring this good news back, to translate these lessons of hope and grace, how to make change into freedom.

And I'm still jet-lagged.

I had hoped to do another complete month of blogging upon my return, but I missed two days because I was tired and nothing I typed made sense. (This may well still be the case.)

So, I was catching up on my podcasts and I heard this poem on The Writer's Almanac for 27 February and now I know what to give up for Lent.


Perfection, Perfectionby Kilian McDonnell ("I will walk the way of perfection." Psalm 101:2)

I have had it with perfection.
I have packed my …

Saturday Art: TJ Edition

Photo credit: Julia Seymour, 2011

Friday Five: Lent Edition

From RevGalBlogPals, kathrynzj writes: This Friday Five posts the day after my return from a phenomenal BE 4.0 experience. I am so thankful for the women who pursued the idea of this virtual community, continue to keep it vital and active and had a vision of creating space to meet in real life (irl) and made that happen too!


Because of the lateness of Easter this year the end of our BE time together has dropped us off on the cusp of Lent. My calendar taunts me with the schedule I'm supposedly going to keep. There are extra Bible studies, evening gatherings and worship services all crammed into a six week period of reflection and contemplation (ha!). But there are some things I truly love about the season of Lent even if I don't get in as much reflection and contemplation as I would like.
What about you? What are some things you appreciate about the season of Lent? Perhaps you would share 5 of them with us. And for your bonus question feel free to share one thing you could do wit…

Latibule

I like words and I recently discovered Save the Words, a website which allows you to adopt words that have faded from the English lexicon and are endanger of being dropped from the Oxford English Dictionary.

When you adopt a word, you agree to use it in conversation and writing in an attempt to re-introduce said word back into regular usage.

It is exactly as geeky as it sounds.

And I love it.

A latibule is a hiding place.


Use it in a sentence, please.

After my son goes to bed, I pull out the good chocolate from my latibule and have a "mommy moment".
The perfect latibule was just behind the northwest corner of the barn, where one had a clear view during "Kick the Can".
She tucked the movie stub into an old chocolate box, her latibule for sentimental souvenirs.

I like the sound of latibule, though I think I would spend more time defining it and defending myself than actually using it. Come to think of it, I'm not really sure how often I use the word "hiding&q…

Freedoms

Today the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) released its decision in Snyder vs. Phelps. The case featured the father of a fallen Marine (Snyder) who claimed distress when members of the Westboro Baptist Church (Phelps) held a protest rally of sorts at the funeral of his son. WBC holds signs that say “God hates f*gs” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers”. Snyder asserted that their presence at the funeral caused emotional damage to him.
I have no doubt that it did. I have NO doubt that it did. Even if he barely noticed them on the day, but saw the footage later, I’m sure it only enflamed his grief and pain. I do think what Westboro does is morally wrong. It’s not considerate of others, it does not spread the love of Christ, it does not bring people into a deeper understanding of the grace of God (except inasmuch as God does not smite them, in my opinion).
However, what they do is not illegal. That’s the hard part, but that is the side on which the Supreme Court came down today.
Th…

Church

I’m at the Big Event 4.0 with the RevGalBlogPals and we’ve been discussing how to define “church”. As you may guess, most of us write blogs, among other things, and we’ve noted that our blog traffic isn’t limited to the people whom we see in our places of worship.
Knowing that we don’t want to limit our audience (really!), then we’ve been trying to figure out what to call the people with whom we converse through electronic media, but whom we do not see in the pews.
In other words, are the electronic spaces “church”?
What is church?
There is something to be said for the face-to-face interaction, the bodily presence together, sacraments experienced in the flesh, the sharing and mutual hope for God’s peace.
On the other hand, there are people who have been hurt, who struggle with doubt, who cannot yet step into a sanctuary precisely because it does not provide sanctuary (as it were). Yet these brothers and sisters have something to contribute to the community of believers.
If we limit the …