Posts

Showing posts from 2005

Serving Stephen

Acts 7:54-60
When the people heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look," he said, "I see the heavens opened and the Human One standing at the right hand of God!" But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he died.


Wow. What a powerful moment for the new Church. One of their own, one of their dearest, the deacon Stephen, pays for his faith with his life. And Saul—soon to be known as Paul—is there as well. It’s like a scene fr…

Christmas Eve Sermon, 2005

Our readings tonight have one theme, one message: Hope. The prophets of Israel, despairing in their exile, hoped for God to bring them out of the foreign land and return them home. We hope to be rid of the demons that haunt us, that make our days unhappy and our nights unsleeping, to remember that our children, whether of our body or of our heart, are still worth loving. We hope that our lives, too, obscure though they may seem, are not useless or in vain.

And behold, our hope is not idle. Our hope has been answered—through the birth of a child, God made flesh, God come to earth to be with us. Emmanuel—God is with us. Can anything be more wonderful than this? God came to be with us in a shape we could recognize. We are never without God—God is very present with us, always. But sometimes, our human eyes cannot see God as clearly as we would like to, as well as God would like us to see God. And so God came to be with us for a little while, as a human being.

And that’s what we celeb…

Another Woman!

Exciting news! My niece, who is expecting in early June, had her ultrasound this week, and she's expecting a girl! Another girl to add to my overwhelmingly female family! I'm one of five sisters, and three of my sisters have only girls (seven between them). With my mother, that's fourteen wonderful women! (Checking my math here--five sisters plus seven daughters is twelve plus a grand niece is thirteen plus my mother is fourteen. Yep, it's right!) And if you want to go back a generation, my grandmother (my mother's mother) had two sisters and no brothers, so that's three more women...

Life is good.

Tuesday Evening...

and Commander in Chief's not on! Darn...I was hoping for some relaxation and entertainment tonight. Instead I'll have to do some work. But I can procrastinate a little longer by blogging, right?

DP and I got our Visitor's Record renewed today. Quite easy, once they've (Canada Immigration, that is) decided it's close enough to the expiration of your previous document (see Exciting Canadian Politics entry, below). Drove to the US, drove back, told the nice Customs and Immigration man we needed to renew our VR's, he sent us into the Immigration Office, we showed the nice clerk our papers, she agreed we were eligible to stay another year, she did the paperwork, we got our new VRs, we drove home. All done!

I survived our annual congregational meeting. I'm not exactly up on Robert's Rules of Order, which is how the meeting is run. Other people are up on RRO, and let me know (nicely) when I wander. All the business of the church was taken care of for a year, inc…

Somebody Pushed My Button!

I was reading another blog, and a response to the blog got me going... So look out below, I'm on my hobbyhorse and rocking away!

The comment was on demographically focused devotionals, worship, etc. Such things as A Women's Devotional, or the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), a church founded in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community, or even Promisekeepers. One commenter took exception to such things, saying that all Christians should be one, and such things are divisive. My blogger acquaintance responded that such things are needed because marginalized groups do not always feel at home in the larger church.

Let's look at the Methodist Church. Back in the early 1800s, in a church in Philadelphia, the black members were not allowed Communion until all the white members had received, thus insuring that the white folks got Communion, while sometimes there was not enough for the black folks, to say nothing of the attitude thus indicated. The black members fi…

The Bone People, by Keri Hulme

I've been meaning to comment on this, since I mentioned rereading it and wondering if it would be as good the second time around. Well, it was.

This is one of those books that you start out reading, you're a bit confused, you take your time with the first fifty pages or so, trying to sort out who's who and what's going on. This was especially true for me, since a great deal of the book's power is in the emphasis on Maori culture, which I am woefully ignorant of. Then you really get into it and you start reading obsessively, desperate to find out What's Going to Happen. And then It happens, and you get depressed, and don't want to read anymore, except that you've started to fall in love with this characters, and you need to know how they get themselves out of this situation. And so you finish it.

Most of it is very good, well-written, excellent characterization and descriptive writing that makes you feel as if you are in New Zealand. The plot is fairly go…

Past Lives

Image
I'm hopelessly addicted to those silly online quizzes--what's your personality? If you were on the series "Friends," which character would you be? etc. But I liked the result on this one! I was a belly dancer! Good thing, cause it's never happening in this life!

In a Past Life...You Were: A Gorgeous Belly Dancer.
Where You Lived: Argentina.
How You Died: Suicide.Who Were You In a Past Life?

Snowy Friday!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around the RP household! Not only did I get ambitious yesterday and haul down three boxes of Christmas decorations (which now adorn the house), but I've been playing Christmas music on the stereo and--it snowed five inches last night! Our neighbor's teeny tiny evergreen looks like a Christmas card with the snow on its branches perfectly rounded and smooth. It just needs a tiny cardinal or bunny to make it complete. It almost makes me want to go Christmas shopping!
DP has discovered a shop in town that sells goods from the Third World, with proceeds going directly back to the artisans. Finances aren't going to permit a lot of gifts this year, but I plan on visiting it for most of the gifts I do give. I wonder if they have anything for a 17-year old boy? TO's list is mostly electronic this year. Sigh.

Top Christmas CDs in my special Christmas CD box:
Mannheim Steamroller (several of theirs; they have a great catalog too, and I…

World AIDS Day

It's December 1, World AIDS Day. I remember when AIDS first showed up (then called GRID) in the public consciouness, as I was working in medical libraries at the time, so the doctors would want information on it, and we'd do a computer search on AIDS and get "finding aids," and grant information--but very little on AIDS itself.

MCC really came to the consciousness of many in the GLBT community in those early years--often an AIDS patient's own clergyperson wouldn't come, for fear of infection, or of seeming to condone their "lifestyle" (ahhh, don't get me started), so the hospital staff would call the local MCC, if there was one. A friend of mine who was in active ministry in the 80's went through a period of months where she officiated at 2-3 funerals a week. When the pace was slower, it was 2-3 a month. For comparison, when I served a small rural church with an aging congregation, I performed 3 funerals in one year.

Even now, when we can see …

Exciting Canadian Politics!

DP and I went to get our residency permits renewed today--the current ones expire at the end of December, so we thought we'd be ahead of the game and have plenty of time, just in case we didn't have the right paperwork or something, right? Nope. We were told to come back when it was closer to the expiration date, that they couldn't issue them yet. For once I thought I was ahead of the game, and I really wasn't, after all. The worst of it is that I was nervous about it all day, couldn't focus very well on anything (I had office hours today), and then--pfffft! It all goes flat, like my souffles. Ah, well, at least we know we have all the right paperwork--the clerk did check it over for us, while we were there!

The government was dissolved yesterday. I'm trying to get used to the idea of a government that doesn't exist, but continues to function... Although you'd think I would be, actually, having lived in Washington Dee Cee for many years--after all, the g…

The Link is Working Now!

When Biblical Literalists Don't Read the Bible Literally...

Read a great article in the December Vanity Fair magazine on the religious not-so-right's attitude towards the end-times and Israel and the role they (the RnsR) think Jews and Israel and Palestine will play in Armageddon. (I tried to find it online, but the link on VF's page is broken. VF's website is http://vanityfair.com, and the article's title is American Rapture; perhaps the link will be fixed in the next day or so)

I was thinking about that article as I read the lectionary scripture for today from Matthew. It clearly says, "no one knows the hour (of Christ's return), not the angels in heaven, not the Human One, but only God knows." So how do these supposed Bible literalists justify their predictions and parallels? I'm thinking especially of the Left Behind series. I'm not a literalist, but they claim to be--LaHaye and Falwell and Robertson et al.--so how do they explain their predictions in light of this verse from Matthew?

That was my sermon …

Friendships and connections

We've been hearing from good friends in the last couple of days, and it is so good! One is a mentor/friend of ours, the kind of friend you feel so comfortable with, her house feels like your house. Very special, that sort of friend--they do not come along often!
And then one is a dear friend from seminary--we were in a Systematic Theology study group together, and if you haven't experienced it, let me tell you it is an intense personal experience! Choose your study group partners carefully, because you will get to know them on an intimate level. My friend and I stayed close even after I graduated, and then he graduated a year later and moved to the West Coast. We don't talk as often as we used to, but when we do, the connection is still there.
Then there's a friend from high school that I reconnected with late last year. He's doing well, and happy. We have to plan our phone calls because we will talk for hours if we aren't careful. We are re-making the connection…

Monday morning musings

I've started reading The Bone People, and it is as good as I remember! I had forgotten the style--sort of stream of consciousness, but not exactly. And there's only one main male character, not two. But yes, very good. I am finding myself wishing I had a tower like Keriwen's with a spiral staircase in the middle and stained glass in the living room.

I'm feeling frustrated again at not being able to get ahead, to work on the sermon more. I feel that if I could get started on the sermon ten days ahead, then I could polish it more and clean it up. Yesterday I found myself (again) preaching the sermon and thinking halfway through, "Wait. that doesn't exactly follow," and "But if that's right, then this other must follow from it, and I don't think that's right." I can sometimes manage to get ahead for a week or even two, but then everything falls apart and I'm back to writing the sermon the week before the Sunday it's for.

TO is get…

Books, books, and more books!

Just returned from a great book-reading at the University. The book is "Pink Blood: Homophobic Violence in Canada," by Douglas Victor Janoff. He looks at violent acts committed against GLBT people in Canada from (I think) 1990 to 2003. Very interesting conclusions.

There were more violent acts reported to the community centre in Toronto, for example, than were reported to police--some of that is because the incident may not have reached a point the police could legally call a crime, but a lot of the difference is because people did not report it, feeling that the police would not take them seriously and/or they would be harassed by the police as well. Some victims did not see the attack on them as homophobic. Many of the defendants (when the perpetrator[s] were found/arrested) pleaded "homosexual panic."Gay men were more likely to be attacked than women and almost all the attackers were men.

Often the attitudes towards the victim mirrored the attitudes towards female…

Reading and Books

Bad blogger! Bad! Way too long since I've posted.

I finished reading Sue Monk Kidd's "Dance of the Dissident Daughter" Saturday. I loved it! Kidd does a wonderful job of showing you her journey, in lyrical prose, without sounding either whiny or overly mystical. She leads you with her on her journey, showing you very clearly how she came to believe what she believes, simply and undogmatically--and without insisting that you have to believe, too. Kidd was a "good" Baptist wife and mother, who came to realize that there was a wound in all women. She began to explore what that meant, especially spiritually, because she was a writer of "inspirational" literature. She started to really see how established Christianity has ignored and marginalized the feminine, making Mary, for example, a meek and mild passive figure, the good mother and no more. And she explores what it means to women to be told--not in so many words, but by church policies, dogma, and …

Joshua and what's important

Another Saturday--and I'm enjoying having the free time! My Saturdays, not surprisingly, are freer than my Sundays. Tomorrow is my last free Sunday for a while--meetings and bingo will take them up from now to Christmas, literally! And I am very tired after a service--a friend says it's from the work of channeling the Holy Spirit. And one of my mentors told me not to plan much for Sundays after service--"maybe a meeting, or a meet and greet, but don't try to have people over or go out to a big party, or go do all you hospital visits." And she was right!

Sometimes I think life is all about priorities--deciding what is important and focusing on that. What's most important to you? Then take care of that. What is next most important? Take care of that after you've taken care of the first one. If you run out of time or energy, then the things lower down the list don't happen. If they're things that need to happen, then you need to look at what's hig…

Random Fall Thoughts

It's a beautiful fall day here in Ontario--sunshine, cool but not cold, and colorful trees. It's days like this that make me say "I love fall!" Tonight the church is having a Halloween Dance (we always have two dances a year, one at Halloween and one for Valentine's Day). We'll decorate the social hall to a fare-thee-well (lots of pumpkins, corn stalks, black cats, rainbows, etc.). We have a great DJ coming in, and we'll have a silent auction (always popular), and door prizes as well. Also, people's choice awards for best costumes. Yes, I've got a costume--I'm dressing up in a slinky halter evening gown, with heels and evening bag and my diamonds (such as they are), and my rainbow feather boa... Should be quite a sight! No, photos will NOT be posted!

Well, the church has a lead on space to rent. So we have to decide if we want to decide to go with this space or wait. The option may not be open indefinitely, so we have to "make haste slowl…

Hello Out There in TV Land!

I'm not a TV addict by any means. While I was in seminary I rarely watched TV. I had no time! During the day I was either in class or at work, and in the evenings I was either in class or studying or spending time with my son. TV was one of those things I gave up during seminary, like contact lenses, obedience training my dog and building my garden railroad.

I never was a big TV watcher. In high school I'd watch Emergency!, and my mom, my sister and I had our Sunday evening habit of 60 Minutes and Masterpiece Theater (yeah, the whole family's geeks--and proud of it!). And on one memorable occasion, before the days of stereo TV's, the local PBS station simulcast Bernstein Mass--I stayed up late to watch it. But mostly, it was the movie of the week if it was good, maybe Jeopardy! or the morning news shows when we had a blizzard. Otherwise--meh. I was a reader.

This was true for a very long time. My roommates and I didn't have a TV in our room in the dorm, and my ex-hus…

Just mulling things over...

So what have I been cogitating over the last few days?

The absolute insanity of the Roberts confirmation, the only slightly less insane question of Meiers, my fear for my friends and relations in Florida as Wilma gets bigger and angrier, how much I’m enjoying “Commander in Chief,” the high cost of being social, and the fact that I’ve somehow lost the thread of the whole Plame/Rove thing.

So many scandals, so little time…

One other hand, I read a great article on the whole mess, in which the author points out that scandal in the White House is not new—look at Jack Kennedy, Grant, Harding, Nixon, Lincoln, Cleveland… The question, I think, is what else has been done by the politician in question. Ted Kennedy managed to bounce back after Chappaquiddick, after all. What’s that? What’s Chappaquiddick? Oh, go Google it, child.

It’s hard for us to take a long view—we only live for 80-90 years (less if you’re into Krispy Kreme doughnuts), and so asking us to look forwards or backwards even a centu…

Delegating and renting

Wow, more than a week since I've posted! I worked for seven days in a row--is that a good enough reason?

Remember all that stuff I had to do? Well, it all got done, some of it better than others... Had a great time with the one wedding that happened this weekend (the other was postponed--the paperwork didn't come back in time). The sermon went very well Sunday, which is always a good sign. And I tried to take Monday off, but ended up planning worship for the next few weeks!

I do my worship planning differently now--here's why. I was exhausted most of August, and couldn't figure out why, until I thought about how much I was doing. So one Sunday afternoon after church I sat down and wrote down everything I did for the church. Then I sorted them out into things I had to do per my contract, the ones I felt I should do as pastor, the ones that could be delegated and the ones I had to delegate. And then I delegated! I also looked at where I could get more help, such as organiz…

We're Back!

What a wonderful week! The weather wasn't all we could have wished for, but that's the risk you take this time of year. We slept late (easy to do when there's no morning traffic, no street lights, and you're deep in the woods with lots of tree canopy overhead). We browsed in the art galleries and shops (pottery, painting, glass); had a couple of good dinners out; wandered along the marina, ogling all the fancy boats; and we lounged all of Sunday afternoon on the deck, drinking blueberry wine and reading the big newspapers (New York Times and Chicago Trib)--I even did the NYT crossword (not completely...)! I haven't had a chance to do that in years!

One of the highlights was a canoe trip down the river. It was a perfect day, warm enough that you wanted to be outside doing something, but not so warm that you were uncomfortable. The sky was completely blue, a beautiful shade of deep royal blue, and some of the trees on the shore were beginning to change color. We saw l…

One more thing...

Well, I wasn't going to take the time to post today, but something happened last night that I have to talk about.

A friend called about 9:45 last night to say that gas prices were predicted to go up by 20 cents per liter, and that there were lines at all the stations. Another friend had waited 45 minutes to fill up!

Well, DP and I are heading off on vacation tomorrow, and my tank was on empty, so I headed off to the gas station on the corner (good thing, too; as I pulled away, the "low-gasoline" warning light came on!). I waited in line about half an hour, watching folks fill up their cars, then fill up gas cans and load them in their trunks... Things were getting ugly by the time I got to the pumps--very un-Canadian behavior was going on. Usually Canadians are fairly laid-back and take turns well, but not last night! One man cut into the line, and the woman he cut in front of really told him off--that he had to "wait in line like the rest of us!" and how rude he…

We're Off! (But not to see the Wizard...)

Image
We're about to take off for a much-needed vacation, so I've been trying to double up on things--the order of worship and the sermon and the discussion group preparation--for when we return, so I don't have to plunge in and have a lot to do immediately. Which is why I've neglected this...

DP and I haven't had a real vacation since last year about this time, when we spent a weekend with friends. I've had Sundays off, but they were for family event weekends, which, while fun (and I always enjoy seeing my family), aren't vacations, really. So we're off to Lake Michigan for a week at a housekeeping cottage--sleep late, read, browse the art galleries, listen to music, relax. It's the first anniversary of our commitment ceremony--a special reason to celebrate.

I do plan to do a little work--some things are best done in isolation from the church! Some reading on contemporary worship and listening to contemporary Christian music, a little planning for the fall…

The Cost of Hurricane Recovery and Other Random Thoughts

Well, Bush's speechwriters should get a bonus for that speech last night. All the right notes were hit, and Bush even seemed to take responsibility for the delay in getting aid to the Gulf coast!

But did he really? And what was all that about mobilizing the military? Personally, I want the active-duty military (Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy) used for combat. And am I mistaken, or isn't the governor of the state the only one who can call out the state's National Guard? In other words, the governor should call out the National Guard, as needed. I wouldn't want to have the president sending federal troops into my state, under any pretext, because the governor doesn't command them. There's a parallel chain of command, and that, as any military strategist will tell you, is dangerous. The soldier (or airman or sailor) theoretically has several people telling him or her what to do. Call me reactionary, but I get nervous when the president starts talking about using th…

Calling and Response

I read an article on church leadership a few weeks ago, in connection with a lectionary reading on Moses, and found it so interesting that I sent it on to a friend of mine who trains leaders for non-profit organizations (churches, associations, etc.), expecting agreement. Instead, he said he didn't agree with everything the writer said, and asked what I thought.
OK, now I was on the spot. This friend was in my systematic theology study group; we has wrestled with some big questions together, I know how he thinks (extremely well!) and he had challenged me.
What I came up with was this. My main issue as a leader (and the pastor/senior pastor is the leader of the church, regardless of theory), especially as a leader of a church, is my concern with listening to God, to what God wants for the church. Not what I want or the Board of Administration wants or the church hierarchy wants, or really even what the members want--but what God wants. So I want to distinguish between God's voice…

Another Monday

Well, technically Monday is my day off. Clergy really need to designate a day as their day off and do their own thing on that day every week--no checking the voice mail at church, no sermon research, no appointments, nothing but household chores, resting, maybe some reading. That's it. In theory, anyway... The truth is, at least for me, that it gets very difficult to keep to that. I need to have the order of worship to the person who lays it out, prints it, and copies it on Tuesday--which means I really want to put it together on Monday. So then I think I'll take Thursday off--I have office hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays--except that by Thursday I need to spend some time on the sermon, and Friday I have to finish it up and do things for the service on Sunday--and Saturday there's often a wedding, or membership class, or meeting, or other event. So when do I take the day off? The truth is, like many pastors, I don't. The fact that I'm part-time doesn't make it…

Wedding Musings and the Animals in New Orleans

No, I'm not musing about my own wedding. As pastor to a GLBT-friendly church, I do quite a number of same-sex weddings here in Canada. I am touched and amazed by the number of US citizens coming here to be legally/civilly married, even though their home country/states/cities won't recognize it. It means so much to them, to have a marriage that is recognized by a civil authority, any civil authority. And many of them have been together for years (anywhere from five to 25 years). Some of them have already had committment ceremonies in their churches or on their own. But this is different for them, and I am privileged to be a part of it.

I have GOT to learn how to keep from getting weepy during the vows, though...

This is running through my mind this week because I performed a wedding Thursday evening and have another this afternoon. I've done a fair number (about eight or ten since April), but not two in one week! At the same time, I love doing them. Their wedding day is one o…

Friday Afternoon

As usual, I am procrastinating on the final sermon polish for Sunday. It's so easy with the Internet to bobble around, pretending to do more research or check the news or your email instead of doing what you really need to get done.
It's inevitable that Katrina's on my mind. I'm infuriated by the government's inability to just move--state, federal, and local. They have known for a long time that New Orleans (in particular) is susceptible to flooding (not llike they haven't had hurricanes and floods there before, eh?). Why didn't they start evacuating people earlier? Why weren't buses made available for those who didn't have cars or couldn't afford the gas or the hotels needed when you evacuate?
My nomination for most jaw-dropping moment: Mike Brown's comment that FEMA "didn't know" about the thousands of people in the Superdome. It had to be a deliberate falsehood--either that or the man is clueless to imbecility. It was on all …