Monday, August 29, 2005

No More A Stranger Or A Guest, But Like A Child At Home

Thank you all for your prayers and kind words. The service for my brother was a good experience. We sang lots of music, had lots of friends around. One person commented that they had never been to a funeral marked by such joy, but there you are. I think that the tone was set by the two opening texts. First was the opening anthem from the Book of Common prayer, which sets the meaning of the burial rite in the context of Easter resurrection and the promise of life in Jesus. Secondly, was the short piece my mom wrote about my brother. Autism - one of the many health issues that surrounded my brother - is so hard to understand, even the experts don't really get it. Below is what my mom wrote, to help the gathered people understand the life we were remembering.

To a great degree, an autistic person is defined in terms of his disability. John was a lover of routine and predictability, with a phenomenal memory. But he also knew what he liked!

He loved to go out to eat, and had a preferred meal at each restaurant. Years afterwards, he would recall the exact date of almost any event in his life (especially if bringing it up would embarrass one of his sisters). He loved to swim – exactly 30 lengths of the pool, no matter what size the pool was.

He spent several hours each day watching his collection of Sesame Street, Charlie Brown, Veggie Tales and Star Wars videos. Although he couldn’t see to read the boxes, he knew where to find each one in his carefully arranged piles.

Those who remember John in church as a child will recall him standing at the communion rail proclaiming loudly and clearly “No blood!” when the chalice was served. Although he wanted nothing to do with it, he certainly got the point! It’s appropriate that we celebrate his life with a Eucharist.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me
Please keep my family in your prayers. My brother John died suddenly early Monday morning, from a heart attack brought on by an insulin reaction. My brother was both autistic and diabetic, and he had been sick which does bad things to blood sugar levels. I am staying with my mom this week - who has all of a sudden found herself with an empty house.

We will be having a service on Thursday afternoon at my home church. My brother also lost his eye sight several years ago to a brain tumor. As my mom and I sat and flipped through the hymnal, picking music for the funeral, we decided that this was a must.
I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Probably could've guessed...

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

thanks to frog for the brief distraction. And now, back to our unfortunately unscheduled church school curriculum for this fall!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Thursday Tidbits

I posted this over on Berkeley Farm Girl's Love and Cooking page... but I heard recently that dark chocolate has iron. I also know that raisins have iron. Some of you know that Luke is a vegetarian, and so we eat vegetarian at home, which means that getting enough iron can be a bit of an issue. Luke's answer to this problem is to take one-a-day type vitamins. I think my answer is going to be a big jar of dark-chocolate covered raisins labeled "iron pills."

Did you know that Ralph Fiennes is going to play Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? I think that could be good, but it seems odd to have a face associated with Voldemort now.

I am running my first wedding rehearsal tomorrow, for my friend Paul's wedding. I will not be officiating at the wedding, but the priest who is (another friend), comes in on a plane tonight and can't make the rehearsal. I'm happy to do the rehearsal - but if y'all wouldn't mind sending up a few prayers for safe and timely travel for the officiant and his traveling companions, that'd be great. I don't really want to step in and do a wedding at the last minute.

I have a whole bunch of links that I want to add to the side bar - some Seabury folk I haven't put up, links from Rev Gals, other pages I read... and someday, I probably will.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

And just what are you implying, Ms. Subconscious?

Does your car have a name?

I was catching up on blogs a bit, and when I came across the to-do list over at Cheesehead in Paradise, I remembered part of a dream I had last night. Someone needed to find my car, and they asked me what its name was so they could find it. I had to explain to them that, in fact, we are not the kind of people who name our cars. So, rather than calling it and having it answer, they would have to find it themselves. Apparently, in dream world, cars come when called by name, but I still drove my red Honda Civic. Oh well.

In the real world, it turns out that I really am not the kind of person who names their car. Does your car have a name? How did that happen?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Take This Sabbath Day

I wonder how long I could go if I only used West Wing episode titles for post titles...

Anyway. Its my day off, so I'm hanging out at home, drinking coffee and enjoying my fake-satin cheap Old Navy pj pants. I've already read through one of my two new cookbooks.I'm so excited about my new cookbooks that I've even sworn off TV for the day! I found an older Rachael Ray book all of veggie Meals! Then, later, I get to read through the Moosewood Celebrates cookbook that my mom gave me as a housewarming present. It looks awesome! There are three main features I particularly enjoy in cookbooks. (Besides, you know, good recipes. That should be obvious.) First, its good if they are vegetarian-friendly or, ideally, vegetarian cookbooks. Second, I really like it when cookbooks give me menu ideas - "Dilly Beans are a great side dish with Cajun Skillet Beans, or you could serve them with a Caprese Salad and call it supper", for example. Third, I like it when cookbooks organize recipes by season. My cooking tends to use a lot of fresh produce, at least when I"m on top of my grocery shopping, and seasonal recipes help with that. So, I was very excited to open up my new Moosewood book and discover that, in fact, it fits all three criteria! It even has a menu called "Summer Heat Wave Dinner Party!" Too bad I didn't have that two weeks ago.

Lest you think I have somehow reverted into traditional gender sterotypes, my day off will also include my first baseball game back in Michigan. It turns out that both my bishop and my canon to the ordinary are big baseball fans. And, Lansing has a minor league baseball team - the Lansing Lugnuts! So, the Canon is taking all the Lansing area clergy and their families to a baseball game tonight. It should be a lot of fun. I'm not actually a huge baseball fan, but going to a game is sort of like gearing up for football season. Which starts in exactly 30 days, for those of you who are counting.

Alright, there are errands to be done and showers to be taken before the cookbook reading commences. Enjoy your day, and may your next day off be relaxing and restful.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Where you live should not decide
whether you live or whether you die*

Proper 13, Year A
Do you remember your favorite meal? I don’t mean your favorite food, necessarily, but your favorite meal – an event that included food but so much more than just eating? I was reminded of my own favorite meal this week: the proverbial wedding feast. Of course, as much as I love weddings, I don’t mean just any old wedding feast, or even the famed feast at Cana. I mean my own wedding dinner. When Luke and I were married, we decided that we wanted to put a good deal of thought and, yes, money, into the food itself. It was a wonderful mix of our own family tradtions. At dinner time in Luke's family, bowls of food were set out and everyone served themselves. But in my house, my mom would put the food on our plates in the kitchen. So, at our wedding, when our friends sat down at the tables, there were "family style" appetizers, and then dinner was served on plates, as it often is at weddings. We also pulled in our own traditions, and served good vegetarian fare as well as meat, made from locally grown produce. And, we made a point to sit down –even at our wedding –and enjoy dinner together. Our first dinner as a married couple started us out well for a well-fed marriage, in every sense of it.

Food is like that. It weaves itself into the important moments of our lives, and connects to more than our taste buds and our stomachs. There is a deep connection between our spiritual and emotional yearnings and the food that we eat, as well as how we eat it. Think of what we call “comfort food” – chicken soup when you’re feeling sick, a scoop of ice cream with your family on a hot summer night.

Sure, soup is good for you and ice cream will cool you down – but comfort foods feed us body and soul. Eating together nourishes us with more than vitamins too - according to a study cited in one of my cooking magazines, “regular family interaction at dinner can lead to better parenting, healthier children, and improved academic performance.”

Of course, Jesus already knew all this, and tried to teach us about feeding body and soul every chance he got – today’s Gospel reading is just one story from Jesus’ ministry where food connects people, and teaches us something about God and about the life of discipleship.

First, the miracle of feeding the multitudes is a story of God’s abundance: God abounds in compassion, in generosity, and in sustaining people. When Jesus prepares the meal, there is not just enough to go around, there are twelve baskets of leftovers. Twelve baskets! Everyone got to eat until they were satisfied. We are so amazed at God’s bounty that we call it a miracle – and it is indeed. But we shouldn’t be surprised. The feeding of the multitudes should serve as a reminder of God’s abundance that is all around us. Every meal we enjoy is a chance to remember God’s abundance working in our lives.

Think of the miracle of life, growth and abundance that we experience every time we enjoy fresh sweet corn or sweet red strawberries, or simply wander around the colorful produce section at the store? God has given us this amazing creation, capable of producing food enough to feed all six billion people that inhabit the earth – and it is freely given to us out of God’s love, just as Jesus gave loaves and fishes to the gathered crowd.

Yet, all around us, there are people who do not know the God of abundance that we see in Jesus’ ministry. This week, I have been following the BBC News coverage of the famine in Niger. The situation in this African country is incredibly desperate: one third of the children are malnourished. As is so often the case, the situation is complicated, produced by a combination of natural disaster, debt, corruption, poverty – and most recently, locusts and drought. It is the kind of human tragedy that overwhelms us, and makes us want to turn away in sadness. But a particular quote in one article caught my attention. A mother, waiting at a relief shelter with her starving infant son, told the reporter: “Our harvest failed and we have no food. It is the choice of God.”

Now, I don’t really know if this woman believes in the same God that you and I do, and I don’t know if this statement is her best attempt to keep faith in a horrible time of suffering. But I am pretty sure of this: God does not want children to go hungry- but it happens every day in the world, in our country, even in our community. When people go hungry, it is not a failure of God’s creation or of God’s abundance. It is a failure on our part – on the part of all the people in the world – to make sure that the abundance of that creation is passed around so that all may eat and be filled. Because isn’t that the second part of the miracle of the loaves and fishes? If the disciples had not been willing to share what they had, that meager portion of bread and fish, and the gathered people had not been willing to share these gifts with one another, they would not – and we would not – have seen just how powerful God’s abundance truly is.

We are called, each of us, as followers of Jesus to celebrate God’s abundance and goodness in every meal, and to share what we have so that others can also be satisfied. There is so much we can do – and even our meager offerings can help people beyond our imagination. We can give of our time to local soup kitchens and food pantries, we can give our money to organizations like the Heifer Project and Episcopal Relief and Development.

The youth have participated in the World Vision 30-Hour Famine, which raises money and awareness about the problem of hunger – and we plan on participating again in the coming year.

And, we can see each meal as a chance to celebrate and thanks for God’s goodness. That celebration begins here with the simplest of all meals: bread and wine. Here, we will do exactly what Jesus did on the mountains: we will take the food, give thanks and bless it, break it and share it. Simple yet powerful actions that have been done for centuries. So, the table will be set and you are invited. Come to God’s feast, be thankful, and then take the feast into the world.

*thanks to U2 for the title, lyrics from "Crumbs from Your Table"