Sunday, June 24, 2007


Today, I preached on my last Sunday as a curate. In one week, I'll begin a new job, as youth & young adult missioner for my diocese. It was a great morning, full of tears and blessings and generosity and Spirit. Here is something like what I said from the pulpit.

Shalom…. That word has been used around here a whole lot in the last week or so. It’s a Hebrew word that means Hello and peace and goodbye as any of the 63 kids who participated in VBS 2007 will tell you. We used it as a greeting, a way to focus attention, as a prayer. There is no real English equivalent, no word that captures all of these sentiments into one sound. While the specificity of our own language can be helpful, us English-speakers can miss our on the way SHALOM points to a cycle of life, a cycle that runs through our Christian calling again and again.– the coming and goings that are part of greeting, blessing, and sending.

Greet, bless, send. Welcome, renew, and commission – this pattern is evident in today’s readings from Scripture. Elijah, a burned-out prophet in violent kingdom, comes seeking after God on a mountain. On the mountain he is fed with water and bread, and then nourished by the very presence of God before being sent to name his successor in Elisha. In the Gospel of Luke, the man possessed by demons finds Jesus, and is healed from a life of torment and isolation, and is then sent by Jesus to share the story of God’s grace and power. Each one comes to God, bringing their sorrow, their struggle, their searching – and is fed, healed, renewed by the encounter with God’s wild and powerful love. But the renewal is not the end of the story. Each man is sent from the encounter with a purpose and a mission.

Greeted by God, blessed by God, sent by God - it is one of the basic cycles of life in Christ. We see it in our worship – as the Body of Christ, we gather and greet one another, in the informal ways of morning chatter in the vesting room, and in our ritual language – The Lord be With You. And then, we are nourished by God’s grace – in the reading and the prayers, by sharing in the peace together, and most especially at the table of Christ. Yesterday morning, I attended an ordination service for a friend who will serve as pastor of a combined Episcopal/Lutheran congregation. The Eucharistic prayer we used was unfamiliar to me, but it illustrated this idea of nourishing and sending so beautifully. The prayer read: “…but here at this table, he (Jesus) is the host. Those who wish to serve him must first be served by him. Those who want to follow him must first be fed by him. For this is the table where God intends us to be nourished. This is the time when Christ can make us new.” Once we have received this grace, this nourishment, this fulfillment of God’s promised presence, we are sent into world “to love and serve the Lord.”

But even beyond the space and time-frame of Sunday worship, this pattern of welcoming, of nourishing, and sending out renewed by God’s grace is the basic building block of all our ministry. In instances big and small, we do our best to imitate the love of God by greeting those in need, strengthening them for their journey, and wishing them well. I have witnessed it in the way we greet and care for the children in our midst, and the way we celebrate them as the graduate high school.

This ministry is evident in the generosity of this place: the way we can give of ourselves and our resources to support and nourish the people we love, and the people we’ve never met.

I know this pattern of ministry is alive and well here because I am a product of it. This place has become a community of formation, giving of your time, energy, wisdom and care to raise up new clergy, and that is a ministry for which I am supremely grateful. Over the past two years, I have been warmly greeted and welcomed into guilds and committees, into meals and homes, into moments of life and death that have been my privilege to witness. The first years of my priesthood have been fed and nourished by shared prayer and shared work, by pictures scribbled in crayons by children, by kind and encouraging notes from adults. In washing dishes on Wednesday nights, in singing carols at a nursing home, around a campfire in Tennessee, even talking about finacial reports at Vestry meetings! – this community, your faith and love and energy, have blessed me beyond any words.

Happily, God does not simply sends us away – we are, instead, sent away changed and empowered. Each time we leave this place, whether for a day, a week, or an unforeseen time, we are different. We are reminded in this cycle, in the greeting and blessing, in the Word and Sacrament, in bread and wine that we are, all of us, clothed with Christ. This clothing isn’t like the kind that we change at will, or stain or tear.

Here is an image for “clothed in Christ”: When we are sent, its like those commercials on TV for the Verizon network – where the cell phone user is always surrounded by the millions of folk who make up the network… When we are sent out, clothed in Christ, we are first and foremost, children of God: neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female. The political, social, economic, and geographical differences and distances are diminished by the power of God’s love – by God’s shalom. As people clothed in Christ, we carry with us all those who are part of this cycle, all those who have been the hands and feet of Christ to us in this world, all who have witnessed to the love of God. Their strength and prayers strengthen us for the work of ministry, and blesses us through the power of the Spirit.

Full of blessing and peace, we come to another moment of sending. As I leave this community for a different ministry, I am surrounded by the love of God shown and lived in this place. But all of us are sent! So, be watchful, because cycles have a way of repeating. Know that you have been clothed with Christ, and Jesus has called you to more ministry: more welcoming of people who hurt, who seek God’s face, who seek formation and nourishment. They may be at the door or across the world – but God will send you where you are needed. As our ministry continues, may the grace of Jesus Christ fill us all with the deep and abiding Shalom of God.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Eight Things

Sometime I'll get back to posting something other than memes and quizzes. But, for now, Grace-Thing tagged me for the Eight Things meme, so here we go...

I'm supposed to post the rules. So, I'll be nice and do that:
1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3.At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

1. I love to cook, and would love to take classes at a culinary school. I'd especially like to take a knife skills class. However, I cook vegetarian food - except mushrooms. I hate mushrooms. I think I could not really go to culinary school because I hate mushrooms. Yes, even portobellos.

2. I have sung in choirs since I was six years old, and I used to want to go into music education. Since I was eleven years old, I've wanted to take voice lessons - but it never worked out. Until now! This fall I will start singing with a choral ensemble in my area, and to get ready for that, I'll be taking some voice lessons with someone from my church. I'm so excited about both prospects that I get teary and a goofy grin whenever I talk about it.

3. If I lived in a warmer climate, and had a relaxed enough job, I would wear a tank top everyday, with a cotton skirt. Its the most comfortable outfit ever.

4. I have two sapphires in my engagement ring, and two in my wedding ring. I had wanted an engagement ring with sapphires since I was a kid. The choir director at my church has sapphires in her ring - I think that was probably what planted the idea in my mind. I loved everything about her when I was kid. (Still do!) The summer before I got engaged, my mom inherited some jewelry from my great-grandmother... including her engagement ring, which had a row of sapphires. My mom let us re-set some stones from Nana's jewelry, and so I got my engagement ring with sapphires. I love it, and I wear it everyday.

5. Its not random or a secret that I love Michigan football. But that wasn't always true! As a kid in Ann Arbor, I thought football was annoying - on football Saturdays, we couldn't go downtown, and my mom liked to sit in her room and listen to the game on the radio. I thought it was terribly boring. It was only as a student at Michigan that I learned to love football. Now, my mom and I call each other after almost every game!

6. People associate me with ice cream. I think this is because I would happily eat ice cream for most meals. I just love the stuff. When I got married, we received multiple ice cream makers, as well as ice cream accessories (scoops, dishes, toppings).

7. I can't stand turning off a tv show or a movie in the middle. Even if I've already seen the movie, or don't like the show, I just can't stand not finishing it. And yes, I'm a "J" on the Meyers-Briggs.

8. My church "aethestic" is low church - I'm not big on lots of vestments, or incense, or big processions really. But I love to sing the service. I love the sound of chant, I love the feel of chanting the words, and the holy space that opens up when worship is sung. I hoep to someday find a community where I can easily live into both of these worship identities... though, my current one is pretty close in a lot of ways.

Now for eight other people to play.... I don't know who all's been tagged on this yet... how about PPB, Tripp, TurtleDeb, Mark, La Sequencia, Mrs. M, Si (so he'll post!!), and Frank (same reason!)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Five and Five!

Today is my fifth wedding anniversary! You know, with all thats happened in the last five years - two moves, two masters degrees, ordination, first call - its the wedding anniversaries that catch me off guard. How can I have possibly been married for five years? You know what they say - time flies when you're having fun.

So what better way to celebrate five years that with a round of the Friday Five?* '
This week's theme, from Cathy, is an Island Getaway!
We snitched a bit of time on an quiet island nearby this week. It was a last minute plan, escaping with a minimal amount of preparation. One must have essentials that make it a relaxing time. Perhaps you have had this opportunity to escape, or maybe it's only been a thought to get away. However, suppose you were told to pack some essentials for a trip to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Describe your location, in general or specific terms and....
Location... I'd love to go back to San Diego (where we honeymooned). I know its not an island, but the place we stayed was on an island in the bay... beach right outside our back door, easy access to all kinds of fun... something along those lines, beach with city perks in warm climate, would be fine with me.

1) What book(s) will you bring?
On vacation... I'm more of a magazine kinda person. Though, and I know this is odd, I like to read cookbooks on vacation. Also, cooking magazines - Cooking Light, Food & Wine... something about the easy schedule makes me think I might conquer some of those complicated recipes some day. For actual books though... my friend's mom just published her third novel, and that'll probably come with me on my next trip.

2) What music accompanies you?
Indigo Girls (always). Norah Jones. Since my husband is coming too... maybe some Regina Spektor. Oh! And Ella & Louis, one of our favorite cds.

3) What essentials of everyday living must you take (as in the health and beauty aids aisle variety)?
Nail polish!! Vacation is for painting nails. Also my entire make-up bag! You never know which color eyeliner you'll want with a sundress for a nice dinner out...

4) What technological gadgets if any, will you take with you or do you leave it all behind?
I would take my ipod - for the plane - but it was stolen recently. Phooey. Oh! But this is imaginary vacation! Sweet. Then in imaginary land, I have a video ipod with episodes of Scrubs for the plane ride, as well as The American President.

5) What culinary delights will you partake in while there?
In San Diego - definitely seafood, and Mexican. We're also big fans of Italian food, the whole "local organic California" scene (a la Alice Waters), and ice cream. And cotton candy, in case we run across any.

*Um, to be clear, I don't actually think that this is how I'm celebrating my anniversary. We're actually going away overnight to my husband's college town (we dated all through college, though we went to different schools.) It'll be fun. Not that this wasnt'... but c'mon!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Life Eternal

Auto accident claims life of Northern Michigan Bishop James Kelsey

I didn't know Bishop Kelsey well - I'd met him on an occasion or two, but being in the same state, I've heard of his faith, his graceful ways, his deep spirit. His sudden loss is a great and sad thing for our church. Consider his family, his friends, and his flock in your prayers today.

May he find eternal rest in the arms of the God he loved and served.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Graduation Day

Today is commencement at the seminary. It will be a big service with tickets and everything, and then there will be much hanging out and celebrating with the brand-new alums, some future alums, and some already-alums-before-today.

Oh? You want to help celebrate? Thats very nice of you. You can say congratulations to these folks: Beth, Archer, Raisin, Ian, and Laurel.

Congratulations, class of '07!