Friday, March 28, 2008

Million Dollar Friday Five

This week's Friday Five from the RevGals is very simple: Name five things you would do with one million dollars. Here goes my list... with some catch-up on the side:

1. The house: Get the house we want, in the neighborhood we want, with a garage like we want. Yep, we're house-hunting! In Ann Arbor! My genius-faculty-to-be husband has landed a job at U of M! Sometime in the next few months, I really will be back in Wolverine territory!

2. Order frozen pizzas from Lou Malnati's. I love Chicago deep-dish, especially with sausage and garlic. Sadly, there is no reasonable substitute on this side of the lake. Whenever I go to Chicago, my nice friends indulge me in a trip, even though some of them call is "italian casserole." Such pizza narrow-mindedness. Why can't pizza be both/and?! Anyway, they ship frozen ones overnight, but its always been so expensive... but not if I had a $1,000,000!

3. Go someplace. We had a great time on our dream vacation last summer to Italy. We have friends with experience traveling in Japan, China, Spain, Puerto Rico, Ecuador and South Africa - wouldn't it be great to treat our friends to a trip if they'll be our vacation planning guide?

4. Start a foundation. We have wanted a family foundation for a long time, and some of that million would be great seed money. I think it would fund projects related to children's health and education, loosely based.

5. There are these great hot pink patent leather sandals I saw at Macy's when I was in Boston a couple weeks back... we had a college roommate reunion weekend, and my friend A & I walked into this crazy spring launch party! They had a DJ, free champagne & beer, and models! Anyway, these shoes were amazing, and I haven't found them here at home. Anyway, with a million dollars to play with, I'd get at least one pair of new shoes!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

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!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

What is there to say on Good Friday? What can be said in the face of violence? One might imagine that the front pages of our newspapers have prepared us with the right response each time violence and tragedy cross our paths. With stories detailing school shootings and suicide bombs, we see the destruction and pain that people are capable of – and yet, we are so often able to distance ourselves from the awful scene, with clichés or stereotypes or simple geography. At the cross of Christ, however, there are no simple sayings that can separate us from the grief of this death. Words seem to fail us. Perhaps, because we find ourselves to be like Peter, at a loss for words because we know too well how terrible our words can be. Or, perhaps, like Mary and the beloved disciple, we stand silent out of sorrow and grief, knowing that all our words could not have changed this ending.

The silence of Good Friday makes us uncomfortable because it asks us to face darkness and recognize it in ourselves. We can no longer pretend that we are above the hurts of the world. Here, on Good Friday, our brokenness is revealed in all its ugliness, brokenness suppressed for so long that it can only be released in violence and used for our own conviction. God becomes Incarnate that we might be reconciled, and we crucify Him! But here, also, is the salvation: God knows our faults, but God can work through our weakness, our mistakes – even through our treason and betrayal, even through our arrogant attempts to kill God. God will transform our brokenness and violence into Resurrection.
The love of God is stronger than the powers of the world, and can work in our lives despite our best (or worst) intentions otherwise – and will go even to the cross to show us the love.

I wish that Jesus had filled the silence with more words. I wish that he had been able to proclaim the new commandment of love once again. There is a Spanish poem that captures what I wish Jesus might have said:

Yo no nací sino para quereros;
mi alma os ha cortado a su medida;
por hábito del alma mismo os quiero.

Cuanto tengo confieso yo deberos;
por vos nací, por vos tengo la vida,
por vos he de morir, y por vos muero.

I was not born but to love thee
my soul is patterned to thy measures
and because of my soul’s habit I do love thee

I confess to owe thee all I have
for thee I was born, for thee I am alive
for thee I have to die, and for thee I die.

Jesus knows that humanity is a community of broken lives. We all have hurts we have received, pain we have caused, and grief we have lived with. By coming to live as one of us, Jesus has patterned his soul to our measure. As one who lived among us, he knew what it was to see hunger and disease, to feel loss and grief.

As one betrayed and crucified, Jesus knows the depths of what we are capable of, and yet, it is the habit of Christ’s very being to love us, live for us, and even die for us: because God knows that the consequence of giving one’s life to love is to eventually give one’s death as well.

So what can we say in the face of such committed love? We are, again left at the foot of the cross without words, but not without hope or action. We are here together, grieving over the losses of life, and the failings of our stories. We stand, looking for glimpses of hope and sharing words of comfort. We stand at the cross of Christ waiting and watching for God to act once again and make creation new – bound to one another by the love that led Jesus here.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Maundy Thursday

Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” – John 13:34-35

I wonder, if it were up to us, how we would spend our last night on earth. What might you say and do with such limited time? Would you tell your family and friends that you would be leaving them soon?

We may well imagine that these are the questions running through the mind of Jesus on that Thursday night as he gathered with his friends and disciples in the Upper Room. What a heavy heart Jesus must have had that evening! He knew it would be their last gathering, their last meal, the last chance to help them understand all the events that were still to come – from the garden to the cross to the empty tomb. If only the disciples had known that this night would be the last – maybe they would have acted differently. Maybe Peter would not have protested the foot washing. Maybe Thomas would not have asked so many questions – or maybe the rest of them would have asked more. But, that is the hindsight of sudden loss. It leaves us wondering what we might have done differently, or what we might have said – the “if onlys” and “maybes” that we can never answer.

But Jesus knew. He knew it was their last meal, their last gathering before everything changed. And so he gave the disciples their final instructions: Love one another, as I have loved you. We call it a commandment, but it is more than that. It is a gift. Jesus gave these instructions as a final word to his disciples, so that they would have a way to survive the confusion and pain of the next days. Jesus spent his last time with his friends serving them, feeding them, and caring for them – and then telling them that they must always do the same.

Growing up in the church, I knew that Holy Week was an important time – the services were very different, between palms and processions and the stripping of the altar. In fact, I was so certain of the week’s importance, that I thought we celebrated Monday-Thursday so that none of the days would be missed! Of course, as I grew older, I learned that today is really called Maundy Thursday. Maundy is from a Latin word – mandatum – meaning “commandment.” Today is called “Commandment Thursday” because this new commandment – to love one another- becomes the framework for all of the events of Maundy Thursday. The love that Jesus demonstrates is the kind that is patient and kind: that will get “down and dirty” to wash the feet of friends. It is the kind of love that hopes all things and believes all things that is willing to serve and share a meal with the one who will betray – wishing it might be different, and offering love anyway. In the midst of pain, it was Jesus desire that the disciples love one another as deeply as Jesus loved them.

And it is still his desire. In the darkest hours of his life, Jesus demonstrated amazing love for his friends. Jesus calls us to love one another through the hurts and struggles of this life, to serve, to encourage, and to strengthen. On this night especially, we renew our commitment to serve the people we live with everyday – not just the faceless, the far away, the ones we can think of as “other.” We try to be in relationship with the people we serve – and, to serve the people that we are in relationship with, helping them wash the parts of their lives they can’t quite restore on their own. We renew our commitment to gather and break bread, practicing the love of Christ that calls us to let down our guard a bit, easing our suspicion and cynicism to make room for grace and hope, or at least at the altar rail.

What we learn in these holy days of violence and loss is the same lesson that is true every day in our communities of faith: God is present in the acts of genuine love we extend to one another: in loving service, in open arms, and in this meal. Tonight, as we reflect on his actions of love, and move together toward the cross and new life, we remember that new life in Christ begins here, among friends, with the new commandment: Love one another as Christ loved us.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


I think I may have a new motto.

I may love to cook, but some days, I just want a frozen pizza.

Just a thought as Holy Week begins.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


I've preached on this lectionary before, and it was not long after tragedy struck close to home. As I'm writing today, I'm glad to be writing from a different place. But I'm still remembering that time, and saying a few prayers for that family. I wonder where the girls are now (young women, I suppose), and I hope that the stories of resurrection we'll hear tomorrow have held them across time.