Friday, July 28, 2006

HOT Friday Five

Just like everyone else said, its HOT here... and I'll be doing a graveside funeral in cassock & surplice this afternoon. So how can I skip these?

1. What's the high temperature today where you are?
According to my computer this morning, it gonna be 92 degrees... but with vestments, I'm guessing 97!

2. Favorite way(s) to beat the heat.
So... our house has A/C. Except it doesn't really do anything for the bedroom. So, we have moved our comfy pillow-top mattress downstairs into the nice cool living room. Sitting in bed, drinking beers, watching movies (a rare treat - we've outlawed TV in the bedroom as a favor to our marriage) - its quite loverly.

3. "It's not the heat, it's the humidity." Evaluate this statement.
Ah! So true. I've been to Albequerque, in August. Its nothing like the weighty, suffocating, humid air we get up here.

4. Discuss one or more of the following: sauna, hot tub, sweat lodge, warm-stone massage.
Yesterday's trip to the Y included both a hot tub and a sauna - but the second one only because I was curious. I went with Luke and our friend Hans though, and the sauna is single-gender, so I thought it was boring. I highly recommend the hot tub, especially after doing two miles on the treadmill and then kinda learning racquetball. (I know - go me!)

5. Hottest you've ever been in your life
Hmmm... when I was a kid, I was really sick and had a temperature of 104 - I remember, because it was my best friend's birthday and I had to miss her first slumber party.

Non-temperature related bonus: In your opinion... who's hot?
Sorry, the phone's ringing... maybe its Brad Pitt or Jonathan Rhys Myers calling...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Enough Is Enough

A Sermon for Proper 11, Year B: Mark's Feeding of the Five Thousand Men

Isn’t it amazing what can happen when one person steps forward and offers to share their gifts? Those moments are often nothing short of miraculous. Certainly, the miracle of feeding the five thousand people couldn’t have happened any other way.

I imagine that most of us can sympathize with how the disciples were feeling on that evening by the shore. They had been working hard – so hard that they had not even had time to eat. There was so much need among the people – sick people needed healing, lonely people needed comforting. The overwhelming needs simply wore the disciples down – and when the crowd needed to eat, they said “Send them away, because what we have will not feed them – its just not enough.” In their exhaustion, the disciples chose to see need and scarcity – but not Jesus. Jesus sees with the eyes of abundance, and asked the disciples to share what they had – five loaves and two fish. And that small gift made all the difference: five thousand men – plus the uncounted women and children – were fed that night. And twelve disciples learned that what we are given is enough, if we are willing to share our gifts.

Twelve different people learned similar lessons this past week. As most of you know, this past week was the youth mission trip in Tennessee. Eight youth and four adults spent the past several days clearing trails, taping drywall, swimming in the river and getting to know each other a little bit better. On our last full day in Tennessee, we spent time in group building activities. One of those activities was called the Muse. Our guide led us to a clearing in the woods, with several small platforms and a few wooden beams. Our task was simple: as a group, we needed to get everyone across the platforms using the wooden beams, and if anyone or anything touched the ground, we would have to start over. It looked simple at first, but after several attempts, the group began to get frustrated. We didn’t have enough people strong enough to carry the beams, the beams weren’t long enough to cover the distance between all the platforms, and we didn’t have enough energy after three days of mission work to think of any other way to solve the task. Some of the youth started to get creative, wanting to use other materials from the forest – but the guide told us “What you’ve been given is enough to get across.” After an hour or so of trying, the guide was right. All of us made it across the platforms to the goal. We had enough boards, enough people to carry them, enough patience, enough creativity, enough perseverance, and enough willingness to reach out and help each other. The gifts we had were enough, as long as we were willing to have faith and really use what we had.

Rabbi and childrens author Sandy Eisenberg Sasso recently commented in an interview that as a culture, we are good at teaching our children to be competitors and consumers. The consumer mentality teaches that we never have enough, that what we have isn’t quite good enough. We always need the better car, the newer toy, the latest clothes or music. We can’t fall behind because then we will not be enough, and we will not have enough. Jesus tells us something different. Each of us have been given extraordinary gifts – talents, skills, interests and experiences that we can choose to use and to share. We are called us to see that what we have might be enough – to see the possibilities the way that Jesus sees, that two fish and five loaves are enough to feed thousands of people.

The problems of the world are overwhelming, and it is so easy to get caught up in fear and focus on scarcity. But as Christians, we are called to witness to the abundance in the world. God has given us enough. There is enough food in the world to feed everyone – yet 30,000 children die each day. There are enough strong and skilled workers to spend their time fixing substandard housing, enough creative minds to find treatments for all kinds of diseases, enough ears to heard each other’s stories, and enough love to share with anyone who needs it.

All of these are gifts from God, and we are called to use them – because when we share what we have, miracles beyond our dreams can happen.

Glory to God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Amen.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday Five

Well, folks, I'm outta here for a week - me, three other adults, and eight kids are heading down to a work camp in Tennesee for a week. We'll be doing work on a Habitat House, as well as some work in a national forest. Keep us in your prayers!

I was going to do the RevGals Friday Five, but the last couple hours have been so... wonderful, that I just can't bring myself to list peeves at the moment. So, instead:

Five Thanksgivings
On the Friday Before Mission Trip, I am thankful for...
... an organized and laid-back layperson who leads our youth stuff. And thankful that he does instant message so we can work out last minute stuff online.

... for having so many great friends, who I called and emailed and IMed today saying "Help! I have nowhere to stay in Kentucky anymore! Who do we know in Kentucky?!" Friends that you can call at the last minute are good friends - and I cleary have many of them.

... the clergy email group I am a part of. Our housing for Saturday night had fallen through at the last minute, but thanks to this group, we have a new church to stay at - plus, our being there helps their deacon-in-charge out a bit too. Nowhere near as much as she is helping us though.

... the lab at my doctor's office, which doesn't close til 6pm. Its just a good feeling to get the little things done before you leave town.

and a bonus:
... for my husband, who lets me call him while he is running late and stuck in traffic and kinda cranky, and still lets me just spill out what a good mood I'm in.

All right y'all. I really do have a million pet peeves, but today... God is good, all the time and everyday, and thats all I have to say about that. See you when I return!

... for my friend Hans, who is in town for a couple weeks and took me out to lunch and ran errands with me. People keep me grounded, especially people I've for over half my life. We laughed, we looked at bags, and he bought lunch. Yay.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Dont Feed The Animals

I'm coming to you from the Big Computer Lab at my alma mater, killing time while Luke sits in statistics class. He is taking a class on regression. I asked if that means they jump on the bed while solving statistics problems. He finds this less funny than I do.

Anyway, I wandered to my favorite deli place for some Greek Pasta Salad, and then over to the computer lab. Its fun wandering around on campus, but a little weird that I never see anyone I know. I suppose if I told them I was coming into town for the afternoon (sorry Terri, but I think you're on vacation). Anyway, on my way into the big building with the Big Computer Lab, I heard rustling in the bushes - about a foot away from me. At first I looked and thought it was a squirrel -until I realzied I had never seen a gray squirrel here. No, it was a RACOON. Eating some trash under the bush. Less than five feet from the door of the big campus building with the Big Computer Lab. What is with the animals on college campuses? Maybe during one of their next never-ending construction projects, they'll borrow some signs from the zoo: Don't feed the animals - or at least, not the ones bigger than a squirrel.

In blog news, I've added a couple links to the list on the left, including the hilarious-yet-educational PeaceBang's BeautyTips. And, I finally got around to posting last Sunday's sermon, but I changed the date, so you can find it below this posting. Happy reading!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Proper 9, YearB

About two weeks ago, I was picking up a few things we needed for Vacation Bible School, and on this particular day, my errands brought me to the party supplies store near my house. Since I was there, I decided to take a quick stroll through the aisles, just in case there were other items in the store that we might use for our program. The last aisle of the store was full of costumes – the kind that come in plastic bags around Halloween. A particular costume caught my eye – it was a Jesus costume! As you might imagine, the costume was fairly plain: a white tunic, with a dark red sash that made a kind of “toga” look. But here is what surprised me: according to the picture, the costume came with a crown made of twisted branches – a crown of thorns. Now, putting aside my feelings about the costume in general, I started wondering about that crown. Why did they include it? You and I know that Jesus didn’t just walk around all the time wearing it. But, of course, the costume needed something to identify it as “Jesus.” Without that identifying mark, it would just look like an ordinary guy wearing some white and red robes – and we have such a hard time with the notion that Jesus probably looked fairly ordinary.

Of course, not everyone seems to have a hard time seeing Jesus that way. In today’s Gospel lesson from Mark, Jesus goes back to his hometown – and the hometown folk seem to be pretty clear on just how ordinary Jesus was. Maybe you know what that is like, to be around people who knew you growing up.

They have this way of telling stories about you – and sometimes, they aren’t the stories you necessarily want to have repeated You might be able to imagine the kinds of stories people were telling when they heard Jesus teaching, and heard about the deeds of power he had done in Judea.

“Jesus? Isn’t he Mary’s son… you remember, the one that caused that big commotion when he wandered off in Jerusalem after the Passover? She was so frantic…”

“I remember around when he was born… there were a lot of rumors, that Joseph wasn’t really the father. Well, I’m not one to spread rumors, but with a family like that, well, I don’t know who he thinks he is teaching in the synagogue…”

The people in Jesus’ hometown knew exactly how ordinary Jesus really was – they knew his family, they knew where he grew up. And, they knew him well enough to remember his failings, to know his faults and weaknesses – and they just could not believe that the power of God was at work in someone like that.

Isn’t that an easy trap to fall into? Bible stories tell us that Almighty God works through fantastic occurrences like the burning bush and the pillar of fire and the blinding light on the road to Damascus. It is so easy to believe that God cannot work through the familiar everyday parts of our lives, in our everyday communities.

Being part of a community means knowing one another – which means knowing each other’s gifts and talents, as well as encountering weaknesses and witnessing some failures. The more clearly we see those cracks and those flaws, the easier it is to think of why God would not choose to work through that person. We stop thinking of them as people with the capacity to channel God’s love.

And then, we start thinking of ourselves that way. We can convince ourselves that God – Almighty God who created the heavens and the earth – that God certainly does not need or want us and the imperfections we are all too familiar with. The more certain we are that other people’s failings will prevent them from witnessing to hope, to the Spirit's work in the world, the more we believe that our own weaknesses prevent us from being images of God and bearers of the Gospel.

It is one of the deep challenges of the life of faith – facing our weaknesses, our failings and limitations, and still believing in the God who knows all those things, and still loves us, chooses us, and calls us into the ministry of reconciliation and love.

Saint Paul struggled with this very thing. Whatever the “thorn in his flesh” referred to, it clearly caused him great distress – so much so that he asked the Lord three times to remove it. Finally, Paul came to understand that God’s power is stronger than our weaknesses, and that God can not only work around out weakness, but works through our weakness to reach out to those around us.

No one is perfect, and the life of faith doesn’t change that fact. What does change is how we view our imperfections. Rather than spending our energy trying to hide our weaknesses from those around us, we are free to follow God’s call to mission. As sixteenth-century nun, Teresa of Avila writes, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours, yours are the eyes through which to look at Christ’s compassion to the world, yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good, and yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now.”

God is familiar with our various flaws, and still calls us to be Christ’s hands in world. God is familiar with the people and actions of our everyday lives – and despite all their flaws and imperfections, these are places and hearts where God is at work. It is not only our greatest achievements that reveal God’s glory.
God’s grace is seen when a wounded heart recognizes another heart in pain and reaches out, when we offer the best we have in help and comfort even when we can’t fix what is wrong. God’s grace is seen when weakness is made strong by God’s power, and imperfect people live in witness to God’s perfect love.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Short Friday Five

In honor of the shortened work week, we have a short Friday Five. How creative is that?

Tell us about five noteworthy Short things in your life.
Short People
Lately, I've been thinking about two short people - my godson (2 and a half) and his brother (4 and a half). They are spending the summer up north at a famous music camp with the clarinet-professor mom. We haven't seen them in a few months, but we have pictures of them everyhwere. We were going to take a Short Trip up there this weekend, but no longer. Hopefully we will see them in just a short while - next month!

Short Hops
I wonder if fruit beer is short on hops? Isn't hops what makes beer bitter? Once, I had this really amazing cherry beer from Wisconsin...

Short Stories
Once upon a time, the end.

Short Lists
Um, not my to-do list. My grocery list though! I went to farmer's market yessterday, so now I all I need for dinner is dill.

Short Stops

Short stop = what I'm doing on my blog today, cuz I really gotta get going again. Adios, enjoy your day!

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Recipe for Movie Night
1 copy of Spanglish
3 avocados
1 small jalepeno pepper, seeded
juice from 1 lime (but get all the juice)
2 cups ice water
some cilantro (maybe a couple tablespoons)
sour cream

Put the first ingredient in the DVD or VHS player, but don't press play just yet.

Chop the pepper into four or five pieces. Pulse it in the food processor or blender until its finely minced.

Peel & pit the avocado, throw it in the processor/blender along with the juice, the ice water and the cilantro. Blend til smooth, like soup.

Put soup into two bowls, garnish with a bit of sour cream.

Grab a friend or partner, tell them dinner is ready, and press play.

Recipe for Summer Lunch
Vanilla yogurt
Raspberries or Strawberries
Slivered almonds or granola
Drizzle of maple syrup (only the real kind, please)

Mix in cereal bowl to the proportions you like. "Torrential downpour" of maple syrup is a reasonalbe substitute for "drizzle."

Monday, July 03, 2006

Its Been One Week

Its been... one full day since I was last in the church building, which is really quite a blessing since I kind of missed days off there for a couple of weeks. Except, I left a pair of shoes in my office that I wanted to wear today. Good thing I have several pairs!

Its been... one week since our Narnia VBS started. We had 75+ kids during the week, and as far I can tell, they all had a blast. The curriculum we used (loosely) walks the kids through part of the story each day, and then highlights different theological themes. The church was decorated as Narnia, including a wardrobe (on loan from my friend Kris) to walk through each morning. In "Narnia", the kids encountered characters from the books - teens dressed as Lucy, Edmund, Tumnus, the Witch. We sang songs (got my guitar out again - that was fun!), had a "freeze tag battle" against the White Witch, and closed the week with coronation ceremony and potluck - complete with a moonwalk. It was a smashing sucess. The best part? When the teen playing Lucy was leaving, she gave me a hug and said "I had such a good time. Can we do something like this again next year?"

Its been... one year (and one day) since I stood in front of many people to say my priestly ordination vows. My lover-ly ordination sisters are gathering in celebration next week. One year in, and I'm thrilled as can be with where I am, with ministry, with colleagues. God is good, all the time and everyday.