Wednesday, March 30, 2005


My friend Heather (not the one who already has a link) is thinking about starting a blog. Don't y'all think she should???
She asked me about how it works, and whether there is a danger of having too much info "out there". What do y'all think about that?


Monday, March 28, 2005

The Other Good News From Holy Week...

I get to go see U2!! In Chicago!! In May!! A friend of a friend had tickets she can't use. Its going to be an early graduation present for both me and Luke. So, here is my other set of Easter lyrics:

I was there when they crucified my lord
I held the scabbard when the soldier drew his sword
I threw the dice when they pierced his side
But I’ve seen love conquer the great divide

When love comes to town I’m gonna catch that train
When love comes to town I’m gonna catch that flame
Maybe I was wrong to ever let you down
But I did what I did before love came to town

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Alleluia, Christ is Risen!

Lift your voice rejoicing, Mary,
Christ has risen from the tomb;
on the cross a suffering victim,
now as victor he is come.
Whom your tears in death were mourning,
welcome with your smiles returning.
Let your alleluias rise!

Raise your weary eyelids, Mary,
see him living evermore;
see his countenance how gracious,
see the wounds for you he bore.
All the glory of the morning
pales before those wounds redeeming.
Let your alleluias rise!

Life is yours for ever, Mary,
for your light is come once more
and the strength of death is broken;
now your songs of joy outpour.
Ended now the night of sorrow,
love has brought the blessed morrow.
Let your alleluias rise!

A Happy and Blessed Easter to You All!

Friday, March 25, 2005

Good Friday

Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended,
that man to judge thee hath in hate pretended?
By foes derided, by thine own rejected,
O most afflicted.

Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee.
'Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee:
I crucified thee.

Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered;
the slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered;
for our atonement, while we nothing heedeth,
God intercedeth.

For me, kind Jesus, was thy incarnation,
thy mortal sorrow, and thy life's oblation;
thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion,
for my salvation.

Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee,
I do adore thee, and will ever pray thee,
think on thy pity and thy love unswerving,
not my deserving.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Maundy Thursday

Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


In the 1950's, NPR ran a series of essays on a show called "This I Believe". It sounded pretty remarkable - people from all walks of life, from Helen Keller to Jackie Robinson to Harry Truman to people none of us have ever heard of. Except for maybe those of you who heard this series when it aired. It was apparently a great sucess - and they're going to try it again.
NPR "invites you to tell us about the principles by which you live and the people and events that have shaped your beliefs in an essay to be considered for broadcast". So all you writer-types (yes, I do mean you) should check out "This I Believe" and pull out the old quill and ink. They even have some of the original essays to spark your imagination.

Its amazing what you find out, lying in bed and listening to NPR for an hour after you were supposed to get up.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Does this still count?

Is the weekend before classes start still 'spring break', even though you wouldn't have classes on a weekend anyway? I'm not sure. But, no matter how you count it, I am at the end of Spring Break, and I am pleased to say that the last "spring break" I'll have for a while has been well spent. I rested and relaxed for a couple days, then spent a couple days in New Orleans visiting a good friend. We heard some great music, ate some good food, drank some good beer, painted a boat, and got very little sleep. Plus, I added something to my list of "10 Things I've Done That You Probably Haven't" that I've been meaning to post - see below. So, thankfully, I also spent the last day and a half of my spring break doing some more resting and relaxing. I got to see Si as Felix in the Odd Couple (very funny play, very good job Si!), and spent some desparately needed quality time with a couple friends. It was loverly. Plus, I dropped in on Reconciler tonight. We sang a hymn that contains one of my favorite lines of hymnody: "Know that the Lord is God indeed, without our aid he did us make". Yep. God didn't need your help to do great things before you were around, and still doesn't need us for much of anything. Humility, humility, humility - all with a touch of humor. I love it. And now - a little guitar (file that under the Rest & Relaxation category) and then off to bed with me: I have a Class tomorrow!! But first... that post i've been meaning to finish:

The "10 Things I've Done blah blah blah" Game.
1. Climbed to the top of the dome of the Florence Cathedral and St. Peter's in the Vatican. In the same trip.
2. Spent two weeks in Ireland with no plans other than our plane ticket in and out of the country - all because we wanted to be more spontaneous people
3. Marched in last mile of cross-country peace march to the United Nations in NYC, carrying a banner that my homeroom made
4. Married my high school sweetheart
5. Sang a solo in front of my whole school in the 7th grade (a whole song - "Memory" from Cats to be exact)
6. Spent six weeks commuting between Ann Arbor and New York City... working in Michigan from Tuesday to Friday, weekends in the city
7. Helped build the frame for a two-story theater set - and then helped stand it up
8. Rode horses in glacier nat'l park
9. Took a hot-air balloon ride (sunset in San Diego)
10. Driven a motorboat down the Louisiana bayou (that would be the one I added this week)

Monday, March 14, 2005

Southland In The Springtime

Yeah. I know I don't live in the South. Thanks. I got that. And yeah, theres snow on the ground outside my window. But...

Seabury is officially on Spring Break - and, now that yesterday's sermon (see below) is finished and delivered, I am too!! Why is it that Spring Break has never lost that celebratory feeling for me? I celebrated last night by attending theOne of the Girls concert at the Heartland. If you haven't seen these guys yet, and you live out here, you really should. Its just a darn good time. Plus, that mandolin player is pretty sweet.

My other big event for the week is... (drumroll please)... my first trip to New Orleans! I'm so excited. Our friend Morgan, who grew up down there, is at Tulane Law School now, so we're going to drop in on him for a little bit. Only two days for me, since we're coming on up Holy Week - but still. New Orleans!! I'll think of you all while I'm eating beignets or listening to jazz.

And for those of you who don't make the connection as readily... the title is an Indigo Girls song - as a way of noting that I'm adding a link over there on that side bar. PPB left a comment a couple days ago, so I checked out her site... and I found this quote:
Real dream job? Singing ala Indigo Girls, Dar Williams kind of deal.
Realistic dream job? Senior chaplain at a small liberal arts college, with some secretarial help and at least a part time priest and rabbi.

Yeah. So I added her, of course. Welcome aboard!!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

How The Sermon Turned Out

Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A
Ezekiel 37:1-3(4-10)11-14
Romans 6:16-23
John 11:(1-17)18-44
Psalm 130

There is a very fine line to walk when talking with friends who are grieving over the death of a loved one. How do you help them be open to God’s grace in their sadness without making it sound like God caused the death to make a point? So often we fail at this task, and our assurance that “God has a plan and there is a reason for everything” comes off as an attempt to suppress the pain and sadness of loss – or worse, we cause them to feel guilty for having their grief at all! Haven’t we felt this as well at times of loss? If we were better, more faithful Christians, then wouldn’t we have more trust in God’s plan? Wouldn’t we be more sure of heaven and be less sad? Wouldn’t we be less afraid of our own deaths if we had more or deeper trust in the resurrection?

Today’s Gospel story can make these kinds of feelings even more difficult for us – because, here from the mouth of Jesus, we hear that God in fact does have a plan and a reason for the death of Lazarus. Jesus – and through him, God – will be glorified through it. But Jesus has much better standing than any of us when talking about God’s purposes – and even with his assurances, Jesus’ closest disciples and friends grieved over the death of Lazarus. Even in the midst of their sadness, those standing outside the tomb that day glimpsed the awesome power of God as the One who gives life – and I have a hunch that they were sharply reminded of the gift that was their own life as well.

Suddenly, this story seems less distant to me. Being near to a death – particularly an untimely and violent death – sparks a particular instinct. It reminds us that life is short and fleeting and unpredictable. Often times when we are close to tragedy, we try to hold on to this idea, and live every moment as it might be our last. How many of us had thoughts like these after the tsunamis in Asia, or the public tragedy of the Lefkow family? When someone we love is given a second chance at life – like Lazarus was – we can feel even more strongly. We make promises to ourselves that we will savor the small things, spend more time on what really matters, and remember to tell our family more often that we love them so that when our time comes – as it most certainly will – we will have fewer regrets. Our whole attitude toward dying – and towards living- changes in times like these.

These changed attitudes – the decisions to live our lives in a different way – are what writer and theologian Frederick Buechner calls Believing. He writes, “Believing God … is less a position than a journey, less a realization than a relationship. It affects who you are and what you do with you life like believing your house is one fire or somebody loves you. We believe God when somehow we run into God in a way that by and large leaves us no choice to do otherwise”*. Now, with much respect for Mr. Buechner, I believe that we always have some choice of what to do with our belief: we can embrace the encounter, or we can spend a great deal of energy trying to run away from the experience.

The witnesses at the tomb had the same two choices in how they would react, and the Gospel of John goes on to tell us what happened. Some who were there went and told the Pharisees. Jesus had shown them that life was more of an illusion – that even death was not a sure thing as they had once believed. This close encounter with Jesus frightened them so much that they went to the people who could help them, the religious leadership of the Pharisees. Their solution was to try and control the problem – the Gospel of John tells us that it is the raising of Lazarus that directly leads to the plot to have Jesus put to death.

But others who were there that day, we are told, came to believe Jesus. The idea that God was more powerful even than death opened their eyes to a new world, where there was more to life than being alive. They discovered a new sense of hope. This is what the Greek word pistuo, translated as “believe”, really implies - rather than our sense of knowing a fact or having some knowledge, it is to hold in your heart, to claim “this is my hope.”

So what kind of witnesses will we be? We are coming to the end of Lent once again, and once again we will travel to Jerusalem, to Calvary, and to the tomb. We will be given the same choice. We can live lives trying to control the world around us, to fit everything into boxes that we can understand and grasp – living always in the “If onlys” that come from dwelling in the past, or the constant anticipation of the better circumstances that we wait for while trying to dwell in the future. Or, we can choose to live in hope – to rest in the uncertainty – by resting in knowing that God is good, that life is a gift, that the world is bigger than us. This is not the kind of happy optimism that blinds us to the sorrows around us - even Jesus wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus, even though he already knew that he would rise again. Hope is not fool-proof – as Buechner said, believing is more of a journey than a position. Sometimes we will forget – our grief, our anger, our exhaustion keep us from remembering what it was like to encounter the God who gives us hope. But living in hope means that we keep trying when we fail - measuring our days and minutes in a different way, spending our time in different ways, and putting our trust in the Way.

And that, my friends, is when God is truly glorified. Because God’s glory is less about an awesome display of power and more about how it changes the lives of the people who witness the miracle. When it comes down to it, resurrection isn’t about dying and death, or even what happens after death. Resurrection is about life, about how we live in the present, not just whether we will live at some future point. It is about encountering God, and how we will choose to be as a result of that encounter. It is hearts open to miracles, people who live knowing that life is a beautiful gift, but that there is much more to life than being alive. Resurrection changes lives – and these changed lives, lives of hope and belief are all we can ultimately give back to God – but we do so knowing that God will be glorified.

*from Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter's Dictionary, p. 22

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Sermon Preparation

Let it go my love, my truest
Let it sail on silver wings
Life's a twinkling, thats for certain
But its such a fine thing
There's a gathering of spirits
There's a festival of friends
And we'll take up where we left off
When we all meet again
- "The Gathering of Spirits", Carrie Newcomer

The Gospel reading for this Sunday is John 11:1-44, the raising of Lazarus. Resurrection isn’t about dying – its about how we live our life. It means knowing that this physical life on earth is a fleeting thing – a twinkling thing – and that there is much more to life than being alive. It means measuring our days and minutes in a different way, spending our time in different ways, and putting our trust in the Way.

Now, if only that were turning into a full-length sermon with a little more ease...

Friday, March 04, 2005

Money Money Money... MONEY

Micah and I both love The Apprentice. So do some other people who live around here. But Micah and I actually watched it in the same place night last and we were highly amused by the following quote, from the woman who lost, right after she was fired:

"Those of us who walk away winners, win more than just a loss"

Um, what? Perhaps this is some kind of attempt at Zen wisdom? Ah well. This is the same woman who brought us the new word "demeaningful" just last week.

For you musical types, Danny, one of the candidates who was already fired off this season's Apprentice has a wesite! He posts his orginal song on this week's episode on his site.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Sunshine, Just What the Doctor Ordered

Yesterday seemed like a totally normal day at first. But, yesterday, I had a strange thing happen to me: I broke out in hives! Honestly, I didn't really even know what "breaking out in hives" actually meant before yesterday. Things were going along quite well- I went to a new clergy Bible study group, did some stuff at the church office, met a parishoner downtown for lunch, got on the train, and went back to church. Between lunch and getting back to work though, my hands and legs started to itch. I figured I just needed some lotion - it was really cold, skin gets dry, you know how it goes. But, my hands were really red too - so I tried to wash them. Nothing helped! So, I went to the doctor. He said that it was an allergic reaction - but since I don't have any known allergies, it would be crazy to try and figure out what triggered all this. But he did say this- histamine reactions can be caused by something as simple as temperature change and cold weather. Translation? I'm allergic to the cold! I knew it!! California, here I come!!!

PS: He prescribed some allergy meds and I seem to be fine now. Still... I knew Chicago weather wasn't good for people!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Distant Perspective

Dust in our eyes our own boots kicked up
Heartsick we nursed along the way we picked up
You may not see it when it's sticking to your skin
But we're better off for all that we let in

Last week, I went on my first pastoral visit, as part of my field ed. A man who has been attending our church recently had outpatient surgery, so the curate and I went to visit him at his home. We had a very lovely visit, and stayed for over an hour, spending time with him and his mother-in-law. We talked about the surgery, his family and his work, he asked about my call to ministry, he showed off a present he'd received from one of his daughters. It was absolutely charming and wonderful - a great first visit. He sent us a really nice note thanking us for our time, and enclosed a copy of his family's Advent letter. It was our conversation that sparked my earlier post about finding grace in difficult days. Towards the beginning of our visit, he said that although he liked our worship very much, it was likely he wouldn't be there this past Sunday because our building is so (shamefully) inaccessible to folks with physical handicaps. But he managed to make it anyway. It is really an amazing thing how relationships are begun with a simple thing like having coffee in someone's living room.

Lost friends and loved ones much too young
So much promises and work left undone
When all that guards us is a single centerline
And the brutal crossing over when it's time

Unless you really don't follow the news at all, you have undoubtedly read the story of the Lefkow family. Its a horrible tragedy, and I tend to be affected by this kind of thing anyway. But, in case you haven't guessed, Michael Lefkow was the man I went to visit last week. Although his family are members of St. Luke's in Evanston, Michael had been attending church at my field ed site recently. Clearly, I didn't know him well, but it is a strange experience indeed to have spoken cheerfully with someone on a Sunday morning, only to read the paper on Tuesday with such hideous headlines. My heart truly goes out to the Lefkow family and all those who knew Michael and Donna. I hope and pray that they are someday able to find sparks of grace in such deep darkness. I am trying to be thankful that we were able to spend a brief time with Michael, and that we were able to find a moment of grace in the beginnings of knowing one another, even if it does mean more shock than I'm entirely sure what to do with for this week.

And I don't know where it all begins
And I don't know where it all will end
We're better off for all that we let in.

*italicized lyrics are from All That We Let In by the Indigo Girls, my perpetual source of words when I have none