Monday, June 26, 2006

Vacation Bible School

Its Vacation Bible School time!!! Which means, its a little crazy-making around here, so crazy that I didn't even get to Ice Cream Friday Five. My week is all about Narnia. It should be a great program, once we get the wrinkles ironed out a bit. Keep all our kids and helpers and volunteers in your prayers... and remember: Aslan in on the Move!!

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Here is my new favorite picture, thanks to Laura.

In other news - we have a new Presiding Bishop - Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori!

Proper 6B

This morning I served as supply clergy in another nearby congregation. They were welcoming and gracious - but theres nothing like being supply clergy to remind you just how "local" customs can be! Nevertheless, we celebrated two services (my first Rite I Eucharist - and no, there was no "mea culpa" manual actions on my part) and I had coffee with some lovely people.

And, I preached this sermon. Or some approximation thereof.

Proper 6, Year B - RCL

This summer, my husband and I are living in our first home with a patio, and so we have decided to become amateur gardeners. We wanted to grow basil and tomatoes, so we went to the store and bought plants – and we chose plants that looked like they would do well. The basil plants were already six or eight inches, and we chose a tomato plant that was already sprouting small green fruit. That way – even with our inexperience – we could be fairly certain to have plants with good growing potential, and that wouldn’t take too long for results.

Isn’t that typical of us in American culture? We want things to be fast, and we want them to be reliable. Think of the advertising for computer networks and cell phones – each company trying to convince us that their product has the fastest speeds or the most reliable network. We like safe bets, where the outcome is predictable and in our favor, and we invest in those choices. From the NFL and NBA drafts where teams get to choose the players who will be stars of tomorrow, to public policies that spend extra monies on the already-successful school districts to the stock market fluctuations for the newest “sure-thing” , reliable return on our investments rules the day.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us once again that God’s ways are not our ways. Jesus uses parables to try and explain again that the rule of God is very different from the rules of human society. This time, Jesus proclaims that the reign of God is like the smallest seed that grows into a large shrub. In the kingdom of God – in the places where God’s will is done – the smallest can become great, and the least among us can blossom and flourish.

Jesus could have chosen nearly any plant for this parable – what about acorns growing into great oak trees, or pinecones becoming cedar trees? There are many ways to illustrate the point that even the smallest seed –
the smallest words of kindness, the smallest acts of forgiveness, the smallest demonstrations of God’s grace – the smallest seed can grow into something great. There is great wisdom in learning that even our smallest efforts can flourish, and that our ambition to start out great can sometimes get in the way of actually being great. Plants have a great deal to teach us about the reign of God.

But, Jesus spoke specifically of the mustard seed, and so there must be more to the parable than that. Some of you may be like me, and may not know the difference between a mustard plant and, well, any other kind of plant. Here is what I learned about that this week: mustard plants are weeds. They are not the kind of plant that you try to have around – they have a tendency to take over fields and starve out the other crops. So, the kingdom of God is like a weed that grows into a great bush, so that birds can find rest and shade underneath its branches.

In the kingdom of God, even the weeds have the potential for growth and grace – because God sees potential differently than we do. God views potential differently than we do, because God sees each of us through the eyes of love. In the reign of God, each child of God is valued for who we might be, who God longs for us to be – even though we fail to fully love in return, over and over again.

Just take our story from Samuel! Saul, the perfect-seeming king was not as good as Israel had hoped for. Even the Lord was sorry that Saul had been made king. So, the Lord sends Samuel, and Samuel sets out to anoint the next king as directed by the Lord. He gathers with Jesse and his family, and goes through the “standard” and “likely” candidates, only to find that God has chosen the least likely of the bunch, David, the youngest son. He was such an unlikely choice that he hadn’t even been brought along – he was left at home to tend the sheep! But God chose David as king over Israel. And in David, God got a king who loved the Lord, who wrote beautiful poetry and music - and who committed adultery and murder while leading his people. Yet, despite all of that, God makes a covenant of love with David, and continues to see potential for growth and grace in David and his descendants.

In the kingdom of God, the smallest of us, the least likely to succeed, have the potential to bloom because God’s love makes it so. In God’s reign, seasons of failure do not have to keep us from growing more Christ-like each day. Indeed – since we do not know how the growth happens, who are we to say that it won’t?

The kingdom of God is hope, and so we are called to walk in hope: the hope that growth can happen even when it seems unlikely by the standards of the world, the hope that God is working in us even when we cannot explain it or see it, and the hope that comes from the knowledge that God loves each of us enough to call us into our true potential, failings and all. Amen.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Sermon Sheep

Found here while browsing around for sermon inspiration.

Friday, June 16, 2006

RGBP Friday Five

I just returned from a two-day whirlwind introduction to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Columbus. I'll try and post more about that later, but let me say this - the schedule is NOT designed for people who like to sleep. No wonder we sometimes get cranky at each other. So, in honor of that... the Friday Five!

1. In what kind of environment do you sleep best?
Actually, I can sleep almost anywhere. Its a well-honed talent. I do like a decent pillow, and I like to have some kind of cover - even just a sheet will do.

2. How much sleep do you need to feel consistently well-rested? How much can you get by on? What are the consequences when you don't get enough?
I prefer nine hours of sleep. And I ususally get preety close to that, on account of A) no kids, and B) a boss who understands that I am not really a morning person, and doesn't mind if I get to work somewhere between 9 and 9:30ish. I can get by on less - although I've never pulled a true all-nighter, so I guess I need at least a couple hours.

The consequences? Tears. Cranky-ness. Inability to talk. Its just bad, all around bad.

3. Night owl or morning person?
I like sleep a lot. So really, neither. But more of a night owl. I have a hard time being in bed before 11.

4. Favorite cure for insomnia

In-what? See #1 above.

5. To snooze or not to snooze? Why or why not?

I do, every morning. But its oh-so-evil. I keep meaning to move the clock across the room... but I know the woman who is the local host for NPR's Morning Edition, so its kinda fun to listen to her when I'm waking up.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

A Trinity of Recaps

While I was away from here Recap: I attended a great women's clergy conference, a few people (see here, here and here just to name a few) graduated, some more were ordained, and I spent an awful lot of time working on our Narnia-themed Vacation Bible School, which starts in just two weeks. There were other events in there as well, but those highlights should hold you. Sorry, extended highlights are not available for sale on iTunes.

Anniversary Recap: We had a lovely day in the town where we were married, having lunch with friends, drinks with my mom, and dinner at one of our favorite places. Plus, a visit to Trader Joes! What more could you ask for in celebration? (shush. my mom reads this blog.) The last four years have seen two moves, two masters degrees, two ordinations, and our own house. The next four years will include new jobs, probably another move, and we have decided it should also include linguine.

Sermon Recap: I preached this morning for Trinity Sunday. Why, might one ask, do we like to put our fresh new clergy in charge of speaking about one of the most complicated theological concepts? Well, because we've always done it that way. Anyway, it was a no-notes sermon, but here is the basic idea:

Thoughts for Trinity Sunday 2006

John 3:16 – possibly the most-cited verse of our time. Its so popular that most people don’t even bother writing out the actual words. We’ve shorthanded one of the most powerful ideas in all of Christianity! But really, its no wonder: we are so overloaded with information, that we need to shorten things up to fit the soundbyte, to be seen when the camera scans the crowd before the commercial break. So how do we take what is overly familiar and find new life-giving possibilities?

What we need are more nighttime conversations. The night is for stillness- so says a prayer in the New Zealand BCP. At night, there is nowhere go to go, nothing to get done, and no one to see - and it frees us simply be. At night, when no one is looking, we are free to explore the quetions and understand people we don't have time for in the busyness of daylight. We can share in those encounters where nighttime conversations become nighttime conversions.

What we need are more moments like Nicodemus shared with Jesus. Nicodemus came in the night to ask questions that he didn't know how to ask in the daytime. He may not have gotten it, but that nighttime conversation changed him - and twenty-odd chapters later, we find Nicodemus present at Christ's burial.

In seminary, like many programs I suppose, people attached to circles of friends. Within my particular circle, I had two friends who were a lot alike in some ways - close in age, kids who were close in age... but even though they shared almost identical networks of friends, they just didn't like each other. One night, close to graduation time, several of our friends were gathering at the home of one of these people - and the other one decided to come along. Well, the evening went on, and one by one people needed to leave to write papers and pack and all those other things that happen at the end of the term. And my two friends found themselves sitting alone in the living room. Well, they stayed there, and talked half through the night. To this day, they are probably closer friends than anyone else from our group.

Nighttime conversations have a way of becoming nighttime conversions.

General Convention begins this week, and you will hear about the daytime events – the committee hearings, and the stories that get covered because they sell newspapers. But you won’t hear about the nighttime conversations – the priests from Massachusetts and Mississippi who stay up til the early hours of the morning talking, connecting, exploring one another’s hearts and minds. It may not change their votes, or their minds – but those conversations will change how they look at each other the next day, and how all of us love one another and live together.

Stumbling around in the dark, asking questions, exploring the unfamiliar – it is part of this living and loving in community that we celebrate today on Trinity Sunday. Today we celebrate the mystery that is the three in one. How God as Father, Son, and Spirit, Creator Reedemer and Sustainer are separate but united, different persons but one substance, an eternal community that we have been invited into. It is, as we like to say, a mystery – the depths of self-giving, other-focused love required to sustain the Trinity are beyond our knowing. But it is worth seeking, going to the unfamiliar places to see how far God’s love really does reach.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Power of Two

Four years ago today, I walked down the aisle and found the love of my life waiting for me. Of course, I did already know he was going to be there.

In honor of our fourth wedding anniversary (Thursday), while I waited for Luke to get home, I decided to update the look around here. Unfortunately, I didn't like how it was going, so I'm back to how it was. But - hopefully there will be some changes around here soon.

And by changes, I do mean some posting. There have been graduations, ordinations, new jobs, all kinds of fun stuff. But now its late, and time for bed.

Power of Two - by the Indigo Girls
Now the parking lot is empty
Everyones gone someplace
I pick you up and in the trunk Ive packed
A cooler and a 2-day suitcase
Cause theres a place we like to drive
Way out in the country
Five miles out of the city limit were singing
And your hands upon my knee

So were okay
Were fine
Baby Im here to stop your crying
Chase all the ghosts from your head
Im stronger than the monster beneath your bed
Smarter than the tricks played on your heart
Well look at them together then well take them apart
Adding up the total of a love thats true
Multiply life by the power of two

You know the things that I am afraid of
Im not afraid to tell
And if we ever leave a legacy
Its that we loved each other well
Cause Ive seen the shadows of so many people
Trying on the treasures of youth
But a road that fancy and fast
Ends in a fatal crash
And Im glad we got off
To tell you the truth

Cause were okay
Were fine
Baby Im here to stop your crying
Chase all the ghosts from your head
Im stronger than the monster beneath your bed
Smarter than the tricks played on your heart
Well look at them together then well take them apart
Adding up the total of a love thats true
Multiply life by the power of two

All the shiny little trinkets of temptation
(make new friends)
Something new instead of something old
(but keep the old)
All you gotta do is scratch beneath the surface
(but remember what is gold)
And its fools gold
(what is gold)

Now were talking about a difficult thing
And your eyes are getting wet
I took us for better and I took us for worse
Dont you ever forget it
Now the steel bars between me and a promise
Suddenly bend with ease
The closer Im bound in love to you
The closer I am to free

So were okay
Were fine
Baby Im here to stop your crying
Chase all the ghosts from your head
Im stronger than the monster beneath your bed
Smarter than the tricks played on your heart
Well look at them together then well take them apart
Adding up the total of a love thats true
Multiply life by the power of two