Tuesday, June 30, 2009

true esp stories

My office manager swears this is true:

Parishioner: Why doesn't the church ever record my offering?
Office Manager: Oh dear. Do you know your envelope number?
Parishioner: I never use envelopes.
OM: Do you write a check, so we can copy your name and address?
P: No. I just put cash in the plate.

I know this one is true.

Parishioner: Did Mr. B.A. get named in the prayers on Sunday?
Me: No. I didn't know anything about B.A. What happened to him?
P: He was in a car accident. He's the brother of S.A., who was once council president, but he doesn't come to church here anymore.
Me: I'm sorry, I didn't know anything about it. Was Mr. B.A. a member?
P: Oh, no, this happened out of state.

I need to work on my mind-reading skills.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

prayer for the long day


A prayer for the long day

Birdsong never stops -
singing praise
Nature overcome with life expands
past its boundaries
Out, Out damn raspberries!
Gratitude is green
Green is everywhere
Too much life around at this moment
of maximum sun
Never too much You.
A mystic appreciation of You in all
green, growing, grassy, grasping life.
And I, called to be one through
green, with You - hesitate.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

a weekend

I have a weekend - a real two days off. And my husband is home for the same two days. It's a miracle. Except for vacations, I can't remember when that last happened.

So, tomorrow, carpet cleaning, then go to the park by the big lake, since we have to be out of the house for the carpet to dry. Then maybe grilling out, or maybe eating out, and maybe find out if the outdoor concert which was cancelled tonight is still happening.

It will be nice.

Gotta remember that for most people, this is normal.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

long week

It's been a long week - week and a half. And I don't have anything profound to blog about. Just stuff.

Went through assembly without knitting (I had nothing at the right stage to transport). Did a lot of crosswords. Found presenters irritating, not inspiring. "Please turn to your neighbor and discuss what's wrong in your situation.' does not make for happy day. Rushed around for bad food, etc.

Pulled off Trinity week, and did the usual 20 hours in two days. Took the second half of Wednesday off to purchase stuff for the week of the convelescent.

Aquila's surgery went okay - hernia surgery and he had more to fix than they expected. Recovery is going slow. I don't think he'll be back with only a week off of work - or that he should go back that soon. However, he will feel guilty and like he should push himself. I think his co-workers might think about all the times he's covered for them. And no way should he be on call next Monday. He may not even be off the strong drugs and driving by then.

Lots of little things to think about - the day after surgery I had to get back to the office, and then had wedding day and then Sunday. And when does laundry get done, what can he cook for himself, can he even feed the cat?

As we were sitting in recovery I noticed I had a sore throat, which has blossomed into a full-blown cold. Today I'm walking around feeling the sleep waves creeping up on me - all I desire is to nap.

I know this isn't that interesting - my mind is mush.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

why trinity

This is a real live pretty much original sermon.

the story about the mom & daughter is from Max Lucado, I edited it a lot.
The idea about gravity is from Glenn McDonald on sermon.com used in another context.

From slaves to heirs - Isaiah 6:1–8, Romans 8:12–17, John 3:1–17

Today’s lessons are about the great love God has for us.
We call that love, in its totality, the Trinity.
The Trinity is about love. It’s not about right belief, about doctrine – or why would it continue to be important for us today?
It’s not about right action – or we could never, ever work it out.
The Trinity is about right relationship – about love. It’s not so much, at first, that we love each other properly, but the Trinity is to open our eyes and minds to the great desire God has to love us – and for us to love him back.

“God so loved the world.” “Abba, Father.” Even in Isaiah – the wonderful, horrible vision of God in the temple is intended to begin a relationship of love. Isaiah sees the greatness and glory of the Almighty, so that he is aware of his sinfulness and unworthiness – then he is allowed to offer himself for God’s service – and cleansed and blessed in order to speak God’s words of love – God’s corrective words, indeed, but messages from God to God’s people – “I love you and want you back - come home.”

The Trinity is about relationship – about the relationship God has with Godself- as the theologians say – and more important for us – the relationship God has with God’s people.

Here is the thing – The relationship God desires to have with us – in its perfection, it is not simple, it is not a given. “What, must I return to my mother’s womb and be born again!” says Nicodemus. (Yes, Nicodemus, it’s that weird) That’s not something we can do on our own. On our own we are off doing our own thing, off in our own world – the world of desires, of flesh - this is the biblical understanding – we live by the law of self. That is what we are slaves to.

It’s like this - Have you ever been riding in an airplane and suddenly started wondering, "How in the world is this thing staying up in the air?" We can see that ultra-big plane that comes to the air show and wonder - how does that happen? Think about it: Planes are a great deal heavier than air. The law of gravity declares that whatever is heavier than air must be drawn directly toward the center of the earth, must stay on the ground. There is no amount of arm flapping that will make me fly.

The answer is to create wings! Bernoulli's Principle. Airplane wings are curved in such a way that air flows faster above the wing than beneath it. According to Bernoulli's principle, if water or air is flowing faster along one side of an object than the other, the pressure along that side will decrease, and force will be exerted toward the low-pressure side. That's what gives airplane wings their lift.

It took creativity to figure it out.

This is where it gets good – we are drawn down by our sin like gravity – we are there on the ground, unable to fly, because that is the way it is. That’s the slavery that the apostle Paul writes about – that’s the debt of sin, that’s the whole argument of the book of Romans. Yep, says Paul, we are pinned down to the ground by this condition. He says - I don't dow what I want to do, and I do do what I don't want to do. That is the reality of our state as human beings.

And only an incredible, remarkable, miraculous power will make any difference. Only a radically creative act on the part of God will save us. That creative act - that taking on our human nature in the incarnation, the coming of Jesus to us - gives us the wings to soar to become what God desires - allows us to come home.

And that is the why we must believe in the Trinity. The beauty of creation and the awesome holiness of the creator – the loving presence and saving work of Jesus – and the powerful inner and outer direction of the Holy Spirit – all three are necessary to bring us back home. To lift us off the ground, to defy gravity, to take those of us who are slaves to the world - And make us children, and heirs to something eternal.

That’s what the Trinity is about – it’s about our salvation – about a God who not only made the world, but spoke to it – who chose prophets then and now to speak words of correction and love. It’s about a God who so loved the world he became one with it – to understand her pain and to redeem the humble. It’s about a God blows through the world

A story of a runaway – from Max Lucado (as retold)
Imagine a poor village in the third world - imagine a pretty girl who thinks that her future lies in the big city. She slips away - maybe she's been led on by someone else. All her mother knows is that she is gone and that mother's heart is broken.
Knowing what happens to young, pretty girls with no connections or protection in the big city, the mother quickly gathers what money she has, sells what she needs to, and buys a round-trip ticket. And she buys one more thing to take with her.

In the city that mother goes to all the places that the young, the lost and the poor gather - the bars and clubs, the liquor stores and the laundrymats, the hotels and motels. And she visits and leaves something of herself behind at each place.

And sometime later, maybe days or weeks or even months - a girl comes down the stairs at a hotel, ashamed at what she's become and she sees something familar. She sees her mother's picture. That's what her mother spent all her money on - small pictures of herself to be placed all over the big city - each picture with one message on the back - "Come Home."

Max Lucado, No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, Multnomah Press, 1986, pp. 158-9.

That is what the Trinity is about – about a God who loves so much –
he places his photo where his lost children can see it
– in the beauty of the earth,
– in the true love of mother for child, of husband and wives
– in the witness of his people, in the push to open the doors and share the good,
– in the book of his stories, both old and new,
– in the generous acts of charity and love and justice, inspired by his Spirit, working always to redeem.
The photos of God, these hints of God’s Three in One character –
are all around us – to lift us up, to break the bonds and weight of sin -
To soften the hard heart
To forgive the guilty
To honor the forgotten
To comfort the sorrowful
To protect the joyful

Whatever you’ve done – please come home. You need not be a slave – you are a child, and an heir to the kingdom.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

too good not to blog

for all you coming to read the serious post about the doctrine of the Trinity.


Making dinner tonight, sauce with Italian sausage and good pasta. Put on good music. Ready to eat. DS arrives. "Hey, mom, I have an embarrassing question. What's going on with my penis?"

The information about Borderline Personality Disorder stresses that one shouldn't discount or disrespect the BP individual by laughing at them. right.

I said, I certainly don't know. He apparently zipped up the aforementioned body part, and now is concerned because there are owies where there were no owies before.

I said, wait until after dinner. (and several glasses of wine). I said, that's something you're going to have to go over with your father. Father looked at me and said - what? I said - it's probably jock itch. Father says - I've never had jock itch. I said, well, if it's round discrete sores, it may be an STD. If it's irregular and a rash, may be jock itch.

After dinner, and several glasses of wine, the decision is that DS should go to the doctor. He says - do I have to go alone? I say: "I'm not going to the clinic and say - my little boy has an owie on his pee-pee." I look up the free clinic, etc. I said - wait, let me get this written down for you. "No, I have to meet someone."

So he doesn't have the info.

I'm drinking more wine.

Oh, I love parenting.

a preaching journey

This weekend is Holy Trinity. I don't like preaching on the Trinity. It's a doctrine - it's not a story. It's a doctrine that I don't understand very well, and I'm conscious that I'm getting one or another side of it wrong if I try to explain it.

And I'm not sure how interested anyone else is in that doctrine, even properly explained.

If folks in the pews had a dime for each time they've heard a preacher say: I can't explain it, but I'll try - they all could go out for brunch.

So, this week I'm approaching Trinity from a side angle. From the Romans text - "From Slaves to Heirs"

This is what I have so far:

Slaves or heirs? – Not a choice, as we usually think about it – children do not choose to be (they can choose not to be) – you find yourself in the position of heir, of son or daughter, of part of the family. You receive and identify, or you rebel and leave. Parents - can un-accept, disinherit - but that is the exception. Parents (most parents) find that love is present for the child as gift, the child as child.

The Pauline response to this is that we are 'adopted' as children, made heirs, because of God's love for us and Christ's work for us. God's love for us becomes love of a parent for a child, not merely the regard of a master for a slave.

(Interesting, most reflections on this passage are speaking of the choices of discipleship, even the Lutheran ones (!) - see the ELCA Daily Discipleship, or the stuff from Sermons.com)

My understanding, and I think it could be justified from Romans, says we are passively ushered into the state of salvation, and grow and live into it. Likewise with the language of being ‘born again’ – other traditions see that as a choice WE make. Lutherans understand it as a blessing God gives and that we receive as gift. All God, all gift, all grace.(And that's the Trinitiran connection - God the Parent is loving, God the Son is our brother, God the Wind is blows us to the direction of joy).

Here is the opening to say we can ‘leave’, we can ‘turn our faces away’ and let the powers of not-God catch our attention. What we control is our attention, our attitude, our receptivity. (?) God is constant in His love for us – we are not constant in our response to Him.

What makes this hard for me personally is that DS is choosing the away path. He is taking the way of the flesh, the hard road of choosing for himself to not cooperate with the 'systems' around him - not economic systems (doesn't want a job) nor moral (cheats, lies, smokes pot, steals) nor emotional (what his dad and I can offer) nor spiritual - 'nuff said. We adopted him, but he is in the process of un-parenting us.

And so the consequences catch up with him. The least of these is poverty. The worst - I don't want to speculate.

As a speaker I go for the promise, not to the condemnation. I see and I know the dark side of this argument.

What do I say on Sunday?