Friday, December 31, 2010

new year's eve 5

today Singing Owl hosts new years 5. She tells us,
I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions, but it does seem a good time for some reflection and planning. For the last few days I keep thinking of Psalm 90:12

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Among other things, that seems to say that reflection is in order if we want to learn and grow. For some of us, this has been an incredibly difficult year; for others it has been a year of many joys. For all of us, there have been challenges and questions and there have been blessings and—maybe even an answer or two! As we say our goodbyes to 2010 and look towards 2011, share with us five blessings from 2010 along with five hopes or dreams for 2011.
5 blessings:

1. (almost) weekly participation in Word and Sacrament truly have helped sustain me.

2. continued realization that my insight and perception have cost me some, yet as always they've helped me survive, too. I've also been thankful for ways my knowledge of scripture and theology has helped me get through.

3. the easy availability of a multicultural banquet of culinary delights here in southern California! long ago someone advised me to appreciate the little things like freshly falling snow; since I consider myself a Food Groupie, taste and smell are majorly in that category of "little things" I truly appreciate. As an aside, I keep telling myself as long as I don't gain any weight, but losing a few would be a good all-around idea for the coming year.

4. would you believe internet friendships? And I've truly delighted in keeping my Facebook design page active and up to date and loved the guests artist and their art as well as the wonderfully positive reactions to my own art.

5. Roxy, my new kitteh who arrived at SAN on 16 October via DFW and PHX!

I love the light that shines through and reflects from this Carnival Necklace! It's from TamaraLyn Young's Etsy shop, bi-eyed beading named after one of her Husky Dogs. How well it represents the many-coloured facets of life's often chimeric shifts, transitions and surprises—I'm expecting quite a few more of those during 2011!

5 hopeful dreams:

1. to find a place of belonging and embrace where I can participate reasonably to the extent of my gifts, abilities and desires. It may be unreal to expect people immediately to know who I am, but I so want to find a few people who are interested in finding out who I am, rather than feeling threatened or being indifferent. West Side Story is coming to town soon, and I keep recalling "Somewhere": There's a place for us / Somewhere a place for us / There's a time for us / Some day a time for us / We'll find a new way of living / We'll find a way of forgiving / Somewhere...

2. same as #1—yet again I've been wise enough to realize that grief and loss are messy events and in general we humans need something that sort of replaces whatever we've lost in order fully to acknowledge the loss. Part of my longing hope for that elusive community is that God will allow me to be a wounded healer for others in addition to finding a few for myself.

3. this is a replay, repeat or rerun from at least one previous year, but how about learning the rest of the Beethoven piano Sonata cycle? Only 5 more to go.... yet what's the point if I have nowhere to play. For me it's so much about The Performance, but that can't be all that bad!

4. to be more grateful for everything, which means going far beyond the usual acknowledgment of how much worse it could have been, realizing other people are in far worse circumstance, being grateful for what has gone right and not awry—moving closer to a fully Eucharistic lifestyle.

5. a super concrete one for last: more design, more exposure for my design, entering more shows and competitions—possibly the State Fair next summer?!

Thanks, SingingOwl!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Christmas Keeper!

Christmas on the BorderChristmas on the Border on amazon dot com

...A Spicy Holiday Recipe of Texas Blues, Hot Country, and Mexican Salsa as well as a project and production from the town of Nashville, Tennessee, a place doesn't exactly border Mexico (or Canada, for that matter). "O Holy Night" and "What Child is This" are rocked-up essential classics; I could listen endlessly to a memorably haunting "The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy" or "I Wonder as I Wander." The style of "Joy to the World" and "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentleman," both just enough different from what you're used to that you listen more carefully all make for a CD to play over and over and recommend, too. Except for the definitely secular "Up On the Rooftop" the songs are classic North American (USA and Canada) Christmas worship, church pageant and radio top-40 favorites.

Since I included playlists from my other two Christmas CD reviews, here are the songs on this one:
1. Children Go Where I Send Thee
2. Joy to the World
3. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
4. Go Tell It on the Mountain
5. The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy
6. O Holy Night
7. I Wonder as I Wander
8. What Child Is This?

How apt and how fun this is as an example of contextualizing the Gospel Christmas on the Borderand incarnating Christianity with cross-cultural musical styles, a little of this and a little of that, each still in its original idiom yet woven into the other idiom. It reminds me of the C.S. Lewis Dawn Treader quote on my Facebook page: "...said the Lamb, "For you the door into Aslan's country is from your own world." ... "There is a way into my country from all the worlds," said the Lamb...and he was Aslan himself..."

I have the impression the CD title is supposed to reference Tex-Mex style and culture, but cross-culture border styles of Southern California/ Northern Mexico and Southern Arizona/ Northern Mexico I'm familiar with aren't exactly like this CD. "Christmas on the Border" and chili pepper art both suggest songs sung in Spanish or at least partly so—in these here parts we've been known to have macaronic English/Spanish liturgies and many of us speak passable Spanglish. That's simply a passing comment, though, and I predict you'll enjoy the energy, twang, and harmonic color of Christmas on the Border (the CD).

my amazon review: A Christmas Keeper!

Cool Jazz Christmas: CD

Cool Jazz ChristmasEric Darken and company bring an enjoyable Christmas music collection with another project from Nashville, Tennessee in
Cool Jazz Christmas, Refreshing Holiday Instrumentals."

For the most part the music conveys a sort of New-Agey, cool, casual and offhand sensibility that passes time pleasantly with an occasional sequence or riff that makes you want to listen again because it was unusual, unique and... repeatable. The sound is excellent and over all Cool Jazz Christmas is well-produced, but it's more the kind of performance you have playing in the background instead of sitting down with to savor every sound. However, "O Come, All ye Faithful" with Mark Baldwin on keyboards and sax by Mark Douthit is worth the price of the CD—I wanted to say there was a best out of all of tracks, and happily there is. The playlist is church, mall and radio standards, but even with quite a few newer songs and carols, what would the season be without these? Cool Jazz Christmas

1. Winter Wonderland
2. Joy to the World
3. Deck the Halls
4. We Three Kings
5. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
6. Here We Come a Caroling
7. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
8. O Little Town of Bethlehem
9. O Come, All Ye Faithful
10. Pat-a-Pan

Front and back cover designs are beautiful enough (almost) to make me want them in LP-album cover size—remember when we used leave our currently best and favorite ones out for show? The credits conclude with, "Above all, thanks to the Creator of such wonderful and meaningful music. Merry Christmas!" Amen!

For a Cool Jazz Christmas: my amazon review

christmasses past 5

For Friday 5 today, Jan hosts Christmases past:

Tell us about five Christmas memories you have.
winter candles

1. Playing organ for Julotta super early on Christmas morning while the sky still was dark (after playing for very late Christmas Eve liturgy) when I was musician for a congregation whose original heritage was Swedish Lutheran.

2. The relatively simple 10 a.m. macaronic English-Spanish Eucharistic liturgy at the Roman Catholic church in the desert.

3. Celebrating Christmas Eve liturgy with the congregation in whose life of worship, witness and service I participated in the first few years I was back in this geographic area. Worship was timed so we'd receive the sacrament after midnight. They turned the communion table 90 degrees, a.k.a. "Surfboard" and we gathered around in a close circle. One of their traditions was a rose on the communion table whenever a baby was born or adopted in the parish, and for Christmas Eve a rose celebrated Baby Jesus' birth in our midst.

4. In trinitarian terms, the Nativity of Our Lord is the major Creation Festival, and how better to enjoy some fruits of the earth than with southwestern fajita burritos accompanied with all the southwestern USA/northern Mexico fixings and condiments? I also love traditional turkey, etc. and have enjoyed quite a few of both so won't cite particular occasions of either. William Blake Winter quote

5. This isn't a specific event, but I love winter solstice festivities and remembrances and the way the calendaring of Christmas is an example of Christianity as an incarnational way that relates to (at its best embodies itself in) local culture, draws upon and re-interprets what's already there and at the same time brings something surprisingly new, transforming conventional symbols and behaviors into something redemptive for both giver and given-to.

bonus: this far by faith, my testimony blog isn't currently active, but I need to risk sharing this Christmassy Friday 5 from 3 years ago.

just wondering... how wonderful would it be to celebrate Christmas in the southern hemisphere near the time of the summer solstice?

Thanks, Jan!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

sounds like...

Community Christmas at the Cathedral!
Red Hot Christmas Blues front
Released in August 2007 and featuring producer Mark Baldwin's guitar that often sears, sometimes sings and at times laments, Red Hot Christmas Blues reminds us of the frequent messiness of life, the apocalyptic hope of Advent and the surprise of God's Nativitytide appearance in the Bethlehem manger. Except for the introductory "Christmas Blues" vocal bewailing wintry conditions of broken life and broken bank account, playlist titles are Christmas carols you get to sing in church and listen to on radio and MP3 throughout the season. However, in liturgically logical order:

1. Christmas Blues
2. What Child Is This?
3. Silent Night
4. Go Tell It On The Mountain
5. I Wonder As I Wander
6. O Holy Night
7. Angel Shuffle
8. The First Noel
...these jazz illuminations carry a revelatory twist and provocative style you don't often get on the radio or at church. I cannot help but imagine Christmas Eve at the downtown cathedral or tall steeple, or just as easily these offerings could be from a smaller nearby parish with wide-open doors that invite and include all comers.

In 4 minutes and 47 seconds "Angel Shuffle," a wildly improvised version of "Angels we Have Heard on High" probably is my favorite among favorites on this CD. I won't try describing it but can assure you it's worth the price and the storage space—from someone (me!) Red Hot Christmas Blues backwho doesn't buy many CDs these days and gave away quite a few quite a while ago. Walter Brueggemann says only grief enables newness (something about getting out of denial, maybe?) and "Angel Shuffles" brings together sorrow, regret, loss and anger with the surprise of God's renewing presence in our very midst.
And would you believe, bible specialists Thomas Nelson published this music CD?! Not surprisingly, I love the artwork and package design by Christie Knubel. Finally, you easily can find Red Hot Christmas Blues on eBay and Amazon, so go for it!

my amazon review: sounds like... Community Christmas at the Cathedral!

Friday, December 03, 2010

december survival 5

kathrynzj hosts today's December survival 5: "please let us know five of the things that mark the season for you. and the bonus? Tell us one thing that does absolutely nothing for you."

advent 2 year A1. The advent of the new liturgical year with the season of Advent is a tremendous part of my winter sustenance. By early October I begin looking forward to the touch of apocalyptic along with the incessant undercurrent of hope the texts, music, colours and symbols convey. Apocalyptic points toward the hiddenness of God's appearing and of God's persistent presence just as its unconventional imagery reminds us to look for visible, audible and tangible signs of the Divine in our midst. As Martin Luther and scripture remind us, in order to find God's power, look to the manger; look to the cross! The Bethlehem manger reminds us, this incarnation of the Divine in fragile flesh could only be God's idea, because no ordinary human would think of power in such subversive terms.

2. Snow... Where I currently live you need to trek a few miles north to find snow during this season, but I've lived in Snowlands in the northeast and in the Intermountain West and there is nothing like the silent sound and lovely vision of falling snow.

3. Eggnog! The December-January holiday season is the only time of the year you can buy eggnog in retail supermarkets. It's true that I always could make my own, but I've never really loved homemade eggnog as much as I've savored the store-bought kind.

4. Fajita burritos, a Southwestern Christmas favourite and they're another culinary specialty in my list cuz after all, I am a Food Groupie.

5. This is about December Survival, and it long has been beyond my comprehension why so many people wear dark clothes almost exclusively during cooler, shorter months. Almost all year round I wear mostly lighter and brighter colours, so it's not only a wintry ploy, it's one that always feels right to me wherever and whenever.

bonus. This definitely is not unique to me, but although I believe I do well in my attempts to understand Christmas music streaming in the stores and on the radio when it still is early Advent, I cannot abide stores playing it right after Labor Day to match the holiday gift items that started arriving in the store during the middle of August.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

unexpected thanks

Thanksgiving 2010For 19 November's Friday 5, Jan hosts unexpected thanks 5. She explains, "With the American holiday of Thanksgiving being less than a week away, I tried to think of some questions for Friday Five that could be connected to this, but in a new way. So here is my one try: Name five things that were unexpected in your life that you are now grateful for."

It's now 9 days past the Friday of this unexpected thankfulness 5, yet what better idea than to make this my Thanksgiving Day blog? When I decided to write about winter, darkness and death, I knew Kelli Titus' amazing photographs of winter in Chicago would be perfect—Kelli has been a guest artist on my Facebook design page. By the way, the background image on my thanksgiving banner is one of my own photographs. Last Wednesday at Vespers we chanted Psalm 65 and suddenly I remembered that Psalm 65:8 was my blog header for a while, so that verse seemed inspired for a seasonal banner! On the wayback machine I even serendipitously found an archive from July 2008 that reminded me when.

1. I'd almost expected cracked roads, jagged curbs, unmarked alleys, autumn bridge by Kelli Titus potholes and the occasional friendly stranger who might become a strange friend, but I never anticipated the sometimes dehumanizing loneliness and lack of community. They say people do their best when and where they find the most support, but amazingly it is over these bleak, lonely years without the friends I'd fully expected to grow older with that I've achieved more than I ever could have imagined as theologian, artist and performing musician. So true an excellent education and broad, varied experience gave me a solid foundation, but who'd of thunk it? Am I thankful for all of it? Of course, at the same time realizing I don't know what otherwise would have happened.

2. Winter! I've lived in the northeastern United States and in northeastern Utah. Both areas have snowy though very different winter seasons; both feature very hot yet very different summers. Walter Brueggemann insists much of life is sabbatarian, spent in the interstitial, liminal time between Good Friday afternoon and Easter Sunday dawn. In my blog and review of Henry Beston's The Outermost House, I essentially said that during winter in four-season places like the Midwest or New England there is a simply being who we've become thus far that has a sense of Sabbath about it. We almost hang suspended in time waiting for gifts of birth, of spring of new life to ready themselves. In that blog I also mentioned living alongside the agricultural cycle helped me learn to trust death.

3. Like many County Fairs and State Fairs, Thanksgiving is a harvest festival. Chicago winter by Kelli Titus Isn't Easter, the festival of Resurrection the ultimate celebration of the ultimate harvest? Easter's in-breaking of grace and in-gathering of new life happens only after death, darkness, winter, inactivity and somnolence. For the apostle Paul the Gospel is death and resurrection! I've learned how essential death is as finally I've started looking forward to shorter, cooler days and longer nights, no longer trying to rush winter (because winter arrives, stays and leaves in its own time), no longer counting months, weeks and days until spring and summer will be here.

4. Sunsets and sunrises—but why are these surprising? After all, everyone recognizes the phenomenological reality and appreciates the symbolism. I've long loved very early morning and long have preferred to get out of bed before first light, delighting in watching the sky for an hour or more for daybreak, but I've been astonished to discover I now welcome sunsets for their beauty (this isn't quite desert southwestern Utah and New Mexico, but still we get some gorgeous skies as daylight wanes), and also for the way they encourage me to slow down my activity, and for their "rightness" in the scheme of everything.

5. I've listed four only, though may think of more in the unexpected thanks category as soon as I publish this. Thanks, Jan!

Friday, November 26, 2010

5 about pies

...labels are friday 5 and creation...

Songbird hosts a day after Thanksgiving-USA with a very appropriate friday five pie-ola and asks us Please answer these five questions about pie:

1) Pies are an extremely important Holiday Meal Component, especially for cold weather holidays such as Thanksgiving Day in Canada or USA. Christmas/Hanukkah, Valentines' Day. Fruit and cream pies are excellent for spring celebrations and summer picnics, too. In the end, Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts require pie.

2) It seems to me that "men prefer pie; women prefer cake" is in a similar category to "men prefer dogs; women prefer cats" so there's no need to write an essay, esp since I'd like to finish last Friday's 5 and post it as my official Thanksgiving blog before Advent officially begins.

3) Cherries definitely belong in a pie, but preferably tart ones (sorry I can't cite specific varieties) and please don't sweeten them up too much; vanilla or butter pecan ice cream on top will do that just fine.

4) I'm more of a real heavy whipped cream fan than a meringue fanatic, but it's best on lemon and doesn't really suit chocolate cream pie, since that needs to be made with graham cracker crust and Real Whipped Cream.

5) For chicken pie, either ultra-flaky scratch crust or scratch biscuits; the most compatible veggies include green beans, peas, carrots, but never lima beans. As much as I adore potatoes, they don't really belong, either. Ideally chicken pie is served with a simple, classic tossed green salad consisting of 2 or 3 colorful lettuce varieties, red tomatoes, cucumbers and sweet (not bitey!) red onions, blue cheese, Roquefort or creamy italian dressing. Ranch is fine, too, but the creamy part is of the essence.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Reign of Christ: Colossians 1:17

Colossians 1:17

Oh, I so love the cosmic Christ of Colossians! This is one of my favorite texts and also one of my faves of all my graphic art.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

to write love on her arms day 2010...

Everywhere you are, Saturday, 13 November 2010 will be To Write Love on Her Arms Day!!!

to write love on her arms day 2010To Write Love on Her Arms—the main site: TWLOHA

To Write Love on Her Arms: Facebook

To Write Love…on Twitter

TWLOHA used to be on MySpace, "where it all started."

I'm basically re-blogging my own backstory from last year:
The subjects of addiction, self-injury and related are very close to me and to my heart. You could say I've been close to it in various forms most of my life; biologically and probably environmentally I've also inherited some of it.

Compulsive, stereotypical, addictive, and similar behaviors frequently seem to defy effective treatment and although there often is an underlying biochemical imbalance or other brain dysfunction that's frequently coupled with negative or sometimes even positive psychosocial experiences, the behaviors themselves quickly carve deep, indelible neurological paths.

For generations the side of my biological family I know something about has been captive to diseases, illnesses – "disorders" – of this type. Despite my dislike of labeling, I know the apostle Paul insisted on order, not disorder and Martin Luther says the Church isn't really there without order, in other words, when it is disordered (theology blog, remember).

telling the story buttonA huge part of reluctance to reveal, discuss, and seek intervention for substance abuse/addiction, compulsivities, self-injury, and panic is their seeming uncontrollability along with the fact insight usually comes quite easily yet barely makes a dent because of brain pathways that have formed. Whether or not they met clinical DSM criteria, most people have experienced an episode that would make them look depressed, but if you haven't been there, done that, from the outside looking in it looks as if the person with OCD or addiction needs to get a little discipline and control though often they're among the most disciplined, productive, and accomplished. In the many creatives who struggle with addictions and compulsions, their creativity and productivity essentially emerge from the same source as the undesired behaviors.

Incarnational theology is one of the labels/tags to this blog post and in all this my prayer for myself and for each of us – addicted, compulsive, mood-disordered, self-injurious, suicidal, simply creatively different and/or differently creative – is a community of embrace that will celebrate our presence and encourage everyone's full participation and that God will allow all of us to become wounded healers, the divine presence of the crucified and risen Christ we were baptized to be.

As I was watching and listening to Patrick Kennedy at Ted Kennedy's funeral, I realized that even for someone in a large, supportive family that also has sufficient resources of every kind, this kind of illness still takes a huge toll and is immeasurably costly to society and to the individual.

for every one of us to write love on each other's, others or others' arms…

Another version of my urban graffiti poster for TWLOHAD 2009: To Write Love on Her Arms Day too

Jesus Died for This?

1 Corinthians 15

3For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve...

12Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. ...

19If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. 21For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.

"...take a good look at Jesus' crew!" Jesus' people still includes even those of us who don't fit, never have really belonged anywhere and probably never will qualify as conventionally religious, never will be recognized as church guys, church ladies, potluck princesses, bulletin board superintendents (etc.), yet when she started looking, Becky Garrison kept seeing "everyday saints" (like all of us Jesus has claimed, forgiven and freed), the literal embodiment of the crucified and risen Christ all over the place.

Jesus Died for This?: A Satirist's Search for the Risen Christ on amazon

Jesus Died for ThisBecky Garrison opens her most recently published book with a basic stroll through a few selective Holy Land sites - both authentic and spurious - noting along her way the parallel presence of kitschy, tawdry places that might be able to rake in an occasional shekel from an occasional tourist with bad taste. So far so good; her energy level and what she observes both seem similar to mine, so I enjoy it the way I'd appreciate going there with a friend. Later she sojourns some in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and then visits some spots in the USA.

A few dozen pages into the book, and how about spiritual swag? Americana Christianity? From "the newest shiny theological toy" to Sing-along Savior and Contextual Christ, through Postmodern Pal and Money Messiah, Becky has a hunch "...Jesus of Nazareth doesn't exactly like 'doing lunch' with his classier counterpart Commercial Christ."

And then, another dozen or so pages further along, huge parts of Jesus Died for This? turn out to be about huge chunks of my own experiences. For sure the details are different, but the endless quest for a geographically nearby people and place that more-or-less responds to my needs to be welcome and to participate reasonably to the extent of my gifts and abilities is almost identical. And like Becky, I grew up in a household framed and defined by the type of dysfunction that grows out of substance abuse (or maybe that needs to read "substance abuse and addiction that seeps out from the splitting-apart seams of social and familial dis-integration").

Exactly like my near-endlessly current situation, on page 49 Becky tells us "But I didn't have a place I could call a spiritual home." Yet later, on page 105 "…if we focus on fishing in those places that speak to our hearts." I keep telling myself part of my being out of sorts is the clear fact that the Church does not do well supporting people who for whatever reason no longer are serving so-called professionally as called, appointed, rostered (another etc.) leaders. True that mine started not with my own decision, yet I still believe not doing so remains better stewardship of my life and gifts. I've previously blogged and told people I was spending far too much time doing "ministry in and on behalf of the United Church of Christ," often nearly oblivious to a lot that was going on out there in the world; it was a supposedly legitimate way to hide, as well. But I've spent eons of time and immeasurable energy denying the fact that in any case I'd have had difficulty discovering a place and space that would welcome me and that I could claim—because they first claimed me?! Not sure about that one. However, [page 70] In Belfast a friend told Becky, "You're in a place that probably hasn't healed enough to welcome the total stranger." Nonetheless, you need to keep following the living Christ!

About that "spiritual home" (but Christianity is incarnational and enfleshed, yet I do get what Becky is saying), like Becky I need to ask:
  • What am I looking for?
  • How will I respond if my questions change?
  • Am I ready to be surprised by the answers?
"Among farmers, actors, musicians, theologians and used car dealers...a dream born on the unsettled non-conformist edges of the church during the early 1970s," the Greenbelt Festival was new to me and I need to be there! But she writes about high school cliquishness coupled with unexpected snubs and exclusions at Greenbelt, at a place where she'd hoped for real life meetups with virtual friends. Also part and parcel of my own history and current style, she describes hiding "fears of abandonment ...underneath thick layers of self-sufficiency." Hey you readers out there, it's not about fear of abandonment, since too many of us have been abandoned on a regular basis! Really! More than 100 pages later, after talking about those of us "who hurt to do what they do,"...a few people I thought were friends and fellow-travelers bolt and head for the hills." [page 171] I still don't understand why?

Becky cites alternative worship that carries everyday artifacts and technologies into sacred spaces as something seriously to consider, since it reflects ways Jesus lived immersed in local culture yet constantly challenged it in word and action. A few pages later, "Casino Style Christianity" is another apt description of branded varieties such as Emergent Church™, New Monasticism®, Organic Church© exactly like any place on the strip, different storefronts yet pretty much similar insides. I fully resonate with her telling us casino glitz obscures Nevada's beauty and Becky suggests some of the newer expressions of the church can obscure God's voice. For sure this book is not comprehensive, but how about theological and confessional labels worn by mainline denominations—not to mention the history and events they hold dear and attempt to keep unsullied? Martin Luther as our ancestor? Aldersgate as the place of our spiritual birth?

The quest for the Risen Christ! Why do we seek the Risen Christ and why do we seek the living among the dead?

As Becky describes her dad's activist brand of Christianity [page 151], this is part of the "why" of the search for the Risen Christ: "Without the power of the risen Christ, Dad's civil rights activism that drew him to seek the [Episcopal] priesthood was reduced to Sesame Street sing-alongs. When peaceful progressives downplay the life-transforming power of the resurrection, they reduce the words of 'social justice' Jesus to just another prophetic voice calling people to repent."

The quest for the Risen Christ! Why do we seek the Risen Christ and why do we seek the living among the dead?

On page 180: "While considerable ink has been spilled discussing the variants between denominations and their accompanying theologies, too little attention has been paid to how a region's history and local issues often inform one's spiritual perspective." That's something I'd love to blog about—even my own necessarily limited experience would make a fascinating story!

At the end of the book there's a helpful chapter-by-chapter "For Further Reading ... Reflection ... Respite" with references, books and websites.

1 Corinthians 15

3For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve...

That the Risen Christ would appear to each of us?! But where do we look? Are we willing to look in unexpected places? And ready to recognize the Risen Christ when we find him?

These are a few of my very positive impressions of Jesus Died for This? A Satirist's Search for the Risen Christ; I've done my best to say something about ways I found it helpful. Becky Garrison writes in a low-key conversational manner that's easy to read and understand, and nothing about it would be off-putting to the more formally theologically educated among us, yet almost anyone seeking to learn how another person's journey might parallel and help them sort through their own and point them in useful directions where they might meet the Risen One and be the Risen Christ for others could enjoy reading and re-reading this book.

my Amazon review: Seeking the Risen Christ

Sunday, October 24, 2010

blog action day 2010: water!

9 days late...water and milk and honey!!!

blog action day 2010 earthBlog Action Day from Change dot org.

For this year's topic of water, first I considered "what do I know?" I know theology, so now I'm considering the biblical promised land of milk and honey.

Water is the womb of creation.
Genesis 1

1 "In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters."

And water is the womb of our first birth and of our re-birth, our re-creation. In baptism, we enter the state of this earth when it was yet unborn; we are submerged in the substance from which first life emerged. God's creative power engulfs us as we identify with this planet's history and with Jesus of Nazareth, who was baptized in the River Jordan.

In the story of the Exodus from slavery, the Hebrew scriptures bring us a well-known account of a 40-year long wandering through an inhospitably arid, apparently barren desert, across a river and then into a place already inhabited by "others."

Remember this? Exodus 3

Exodus 33

3a "Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey..."

Milk and honey is a sign of the fullness of God's reign in justice and righteousness. Flowing honey and surging milk begin with fertile land and rivers of usable water. Ample milk means abundant cattle grazing on luxuriant grass, bovines that bear healthy calves--and that fertilize the ground. Bees make honey; bees pollinate fruits and flowers. Dairy, beef, honey and harvest mean nourishment for farmers, families and community, with overflowing everything to sell at market or barter and trade in order to get whatever you cannot grow.

The story of creation and of the people of God begins with water, continues with almost countless water-related experiences, including a great flood followed by God's covenant with Noah and with all creation, with Abram/Abraham and later Jacob's passage by the Jabbok River... water's scarcity in the exodus desert is central, since the desert became the place where the people learned to recognize and acknowledge water as gift rather than as taken for granted. In the desert's sparse economy, with surprises like water from the rock and manna from the sky, they also learned the kind of trust in God's provision that would enable them later to live in covenant with each other and with all creation.

Exodus 17

1From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2The people quarreled with Moses, and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?" 3But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, "Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?"

Numbers 20

1The Israelites, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. Miriam died there, and was buried there. 2Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and against Aaron. 3The people quarreled with Moses and said, "Would that we had died when our kindred died before the Lord! 4Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness for us and our livestock to die here? 5Why have you brought us up out of Egypt, to bring us to this wretched place? It is no place for grain, or figs, or vines, or pomegranates; and there is no water to drink."

After they left the geographic, phenomenological Egypt, the people reached into the desert of Shur, where Elim, with its twelve springs of fresh water and seventy palm trees was one of their first stops. Palm trees and fresh springs provided shade and shelter, yet Marah, "bitter waters" was the name of the gateway to Elim's sanctuary, safety and protection.

Exodus 15

22Then Moses ordered Israel to set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter. That is why it was called Marah. 24And the people complained against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?" 25He cried out to the Lord; and the Lord showed him a piece of wood; he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. ... 27Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they camped there by the water.

Toward the last part of the texts placed last in the biblical canon there's a rich vision of rivers, trees, wholeness and integrity:

Revelation 22

1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. 2On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

For God's newly constituted, post-exodus people a new phase begins with the body of water that's threshold between past and future and for the Church, waters and rivers - especially The Jordan River - remain icons of baptism, the event in which God irrevocably claims us and calls us to live in trust and in covenant with all creation. For us, baptism is a liminal, a threshold event that divides a disconnected past from new life in covenant with the church in every time and every place and with all creation. As Christians we are People of the Book that begins with waters of the first creation and ends with rivers of the new, a book in which water is a persistent image. We people of the book also are people of the journey, a faith-filled, trusting trek that is bordered, boundaried and largely defined by the gift of water and our stewardship thereof, a kind of fluid wandering during which we're never still back there but also never have quite reached what we imagined to be our destination. You know I love Carly Simon's
Let the River Run

We're coming to the edge,
Running on the water,
Coming through the fog,
Your sons and daughters.

Let the river run,
Let all the dreamers
Wake the nation.
Come, the New Jerusalem!
Water is the womb of creation and the geographic, landed location of milk and honey cannot happen without pure, "living" water that keeps on birthing and re-birthing everything on earth. Milk and honey requires fertile ground and rivers that flow—rivers that won't catch on fire! That kind of land grows plump grains in well-stewarded prairies, juicy grapes on heavy-laden vines. Milk and honey is a lively sign of well-nourished people, animals, families and communities, of the sufficiency of shalom for everyone with neither too much nor not enough for anyone!

Only when milk and honey abounds can we offer back to heaven the feast of eucharist that gathers and welcomes all creation and all people, excluding no one (except those who exclude themselves). This "foretaste of the feast to come," as the liturgy expresses it, is the sign and realization of all creation's reconciliation, an emblem of justice and integrity of all and for all, a celebration that depends on the river that depends on the humans that depend on the river, the banquet that cannot happen without... water!

Carl Sagan observes, "If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." It's a given that we cannot create the universe, but if we want to make apple pies, we must help steward the universe's re-creation and we need to take care of the water, live in covenant with the water, with each other and with all creation.

Blog Action Day 2010: water!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

5 about connecting

Today Jan hosts Connecting Friday 5

and tells us, I am currently reading Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnam, where he explores the changes in community in the USA in the 20th Century. He explains how communities, people, and especially children function better when they live where there is high social capital. Basically, it means that "relationships matter."

We all know this because Christianity (and other religions) emphasize the Golden Rule:

"All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you,
do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets." Matthew 7:1

So here are some questions to ponder for this Friday Five about connecting with:

1. Self: I don't recall having a hero, heroine, celebrity crush or look-up-to local person around the time I was ten or thereabout or even into high school.

2. Family: Like too many people, I'm from a fractured, fragmented biological family but I'll go with this one anyway. Despite too recently learning that I have both a younger sister and an older one, I have no way of speaking about anyone being most like me, but I know I have my grandmother's diverse interests and talents and my dad's inquisitive, flight of ideas intellect.

3. Friends: how do I stay in touch? These days, too much internet time. It's a long story and a powerful theological experience, but the friends I'd expected to be connected to for the rest of my life were gone. With some smart guesses I've reconnected with a next door friend and neighbor; she and I interact on Facebook quite a lot. I've found and attempted contacting a few others, decided against trying to re-connect with yet other friends who forsook me... you need to move the old furniture out of the house if you're going to have room for the new, right?!

4. Neighborhood, community: in the past I've been a political activist and done some community organizing. I've been Neighborhood Crime Watch chairperson. Currently I serve on the homeowners association Landscaping Committee. I like to be involved in some areas that are familiar and in which I already have skills and experience along with at least a small touch of pursuits that are brand-new to me.

5. Job/church: I'm not sure how to respond to if I see a need that will help in developing connections, but I cannot keep on keeping' on without somehow reforming both professional and social networks, and would assume some people would be part of both.

Bonus: A link or anything else about connecting.

As they insist, "it's not what you know; it's not who you know; it's who knows you." Sigh.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

from the heart of the earth

Just as Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the great fish, so shall the Human One be three days and nights in the heart of the earth. Matthew 12:40

As the world at last rejoices in a successful outcome to internationally planned rescue efforts that resulted in one miner and then another being brought to safety and restored to life above ground, I couldn't help but think of the Sign of Jonah—Death and Resurrection!

Flag of ChileBeginning 05 August, a 69-day long drama ensued when a collapse at the San José copper mine in the Atacama desert in Copiapó, Chile sealed off exits for miners who were working underground; the location of 32 Chilean nationals and one Bolivian remained unknown for 17 days and the final outcome wasn't really certain until yesterday evening.

"We have lived a magical night, a night we will remember throughout our lives, a night in which life defeated death," Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced; later on he said to the 15th miner out, Victor Segvia, "Welcome to life!" In Martin Luther's Easter hymn, «Christ lag in Todesbanden» we sing, "It was a strange and dreadful strife when life and death contended; the victory remained with life, the reign of death was ended..."

All creation lives under conditions of time and space; those of us above ground alternated between high hopes and high anxieties, but the miners themselves must have sensed limitations of space and time with extreme intensity in their confined waiting places and the truly finite interval within which hope would be able to hang suspended. They were in easily measurable chronos time, likely drifting back and forth from memories of deadly mine calamities they'd heard about and the hope of resurrection to new life from 700 meters deep in the heart of the earth.

The miners themselves observed there were not 33 miners—there actually were 34! Christianity teaches and proclaims God's incarnation, enfleshment as a human in a body formed from the stuff of the earth. According to the creation narrative from the scribe we call the "Elohist," God created the proto-human, out of red dirt and named him A-dam, "earthling," from the Hebrew word for earth or ground. Luke the gospel-writer concludes his genealogy with "Adam, son of God!"

As the ordeal concludes, the miners find themselves resurrected into new lives formed out of the stuff of the earth, because of the ground and after more than three days and three nights.

Friday, October 08, 2010

fall word association 5

Fall Word Association 5, hosted by SingingOwl: "I know, fall is one way on this side of the world and different in other places, but please bear with me as I post words that say FALL—at least where I am. Give us the the first word that comes to mind and then add a little something about why, or how or what."pumpkins by kelli titus

1. Pumpkins: one of my all-time favorite pies. Pumpkins make a great symbol of fruitful harvest and they're lots of fun to draw, paint and color.

2. Campfire: beyond overnight and weekend camping a few times, I've had very little actual campfire experience but fireplaces are cozy and comforting as the days get shorter, nights become longer and a chill in the air reminds us winter is on the way, but so is spring!

3. Apples: Once again it has to be pies!!!—particularly with freshly flaky crust and a variety of tart and sweet apples along with mostly brown sugar and either only nutmeg and a little ginger for the spice seasoning but in any case, please go easy with cinnamon. Apples also are fun to draw, paint and color.

4. Color: I love the association of different hues and color palettes with different seasons, and I usually consider oranges, gold, browns and sages autumnal, though there's no reason not to wear or use any color at any time.

5. Halloween: 31 October also is Reformation Day!!! is the bonus question, sort of a serious one:

What does the following passage from Daniel 2 [20-21a] make you think about?
"Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
Wisdom and power are his...
He changes times and seasons."
Assurance of God's sovereignty as Maker of creation and Lord of everything that is--a reminder God is not capricious! Bringing this forward into a Christian context, we discover God's ultimate wisdom and power, God ultimate Self-revelation in the subversive power – the weakness and vulnerability – of the cross of Calvary. Also, not only are there natural and meteorological seasons, we humans quite regularly cycle through various ways of being more and less productive and creative, of resting, hibernating, and resurrecting.

The amazing pumpkins photograph is by Kelli Titus, one of the guest artists on my Facebook page, suntreeriver design. If you're on FB and not already a fan, I'd love you to become one!

Thanks, SingingOwl!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Season of Creation 4C: Cosmos Sunday

26 September 2010

September constellation Dabih
Cosmos Sunday! Liturgy brings cosmic time and chronological time to an intersection where all times everywhere – past, present and future ≠ meet in this present now. The person presiding at eucharist holds the totality, entirety and completeness of the redeemed and restored cosmos in their hands as the risen, ascended One also is now descended, once again incarnate among and within the gathered and transformed Eucharistic community and within all creation. Martin Luther speaks about the ubiquity of the Risen and Ascended Christ...

Cosmos Sunday!

"We are stardust, we are golden,
We are billion year old carbon,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden."
Woodstock, by Joni Mitchell

Michin Kaku tells us "...we are children of the stars; the atoms in our bodies were forged on the anvil of nucleo-synthesis within an exploding star aeons before the birth of the solar system. Our atoms are older than the mountains. We are literally made of stardust." Hyperspace, 1994

from Madeleine L'Engle: "If we look at the makeup of the word disaster, dis-aster, we see dis, which means separation, and aster, which means star. So dis-aster is separation from the stars. Such separation is disaster indeed. When we are separated from the stars, the sea, each other, we are in danger of being separated from God." A Stone for a Pillow, 1986

We Bow Down

by Twila Paris

You are Lord of the Heavens and Lord of my life
Lord of the land and the sea
You were Lord of Creation before there was time
And Lord of all Lords You will be

We bow down and we worship You, Lord
We bow down and we worship You, Lord
We bow down and we worship You, Lord
Lord of all Lords You will be

You are King of the Heavens and King of my life
King of the land and the sea
You were King of Creation before there was time
And King of all Kings You will be

We bow down and we crown You the King
We bow down and we crown You the King
We bow down and we crown You the King
King of all Kings You will be

Friday, September 24, 2010

sing once pray twice friday 5

we who sing pray twice 5 hosted by Mary Beth. I could write a separate blog on each of these 5 questions, but for today short answers will do.

1) Do you like to sing/listen to others sing? In worship, or on your own (or not at all?)

St Bavo organI love love LOVE leading worship from organ or piano! I have artist's diplomas in piano from Tanglewood and in organ from the International Summer Academy for Organists in Haarlem. Although I have perfect pitch and an okay voice and can sight read anything, I'm not a singer so maybe that's particularly why I love the sound of an outstanding choir as the aspect of music I'd much rather listen to than participate in, though with everything keyboards I'm the opposite.

This is a photo of the Christian Müller organ at St. Bavokerk in Haarlem, a.k.a. "The Reformed St. Bavo," since there's also a Roman Catholic St. Bavo.

2) Did you grow up with music in worship, or come to it later in life? Tell us about it, and how that has changed in your experience.

I didn't grow up in the church, but I lived in a house with a piano and taught myself first to play by ear and then eventually to read notes before starting formal piano lessons around 9th grade. First becoming acquainted with music in worship during college probably qualifies sort of as "later in life!" Having been a musician of some sort since around 4th or 5th grade when I first started playing (not to mention earlier experiences of listening) has made me very fussy and highly discriminating, though I try my best not to be negative about people's best efforts.

3) Some people find worship incomplete without music; others would just as soon not have it. Where do you fall?

Probably because of my own musical backgrounds and abilities, although I love well-presented music and beautifully sung liturgy, if it's not of a fairly high caliber I'd rather have a spoken service. I have fond memories (okay, mixed feelings, since it was one of my zillion plus attempts to reconcile some with Canterbury) of a couple year's worth of BCP Holy Communion Rite 1 at Vacation Parish in affluent Vacation Ville.

4) Do you prefer traditional music in worship, or contemporary? That can mean many different things!

I'll get beyond real for a touch of ideal: probably no 19th century hymnody, organ music or organ construction whatsoever and I do not care for chant of any type (Gregorian, Anglican, Taizé...). So let's have one each of a traditional hymn such as "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation" (Lobe den Herren); a psalm from the Genevan Psalter; a 20th century specialty like "I Am the Bread of Life" that crashes boundaries between traditional, contemporary and praise; an actual praise song... how about Hillsongs "Shout to the Lord?!" And by the way, for reasons of theology, politics and language I'm more than fine with Lord but prefer not to use King, but also prefer not to tweak the original poetry out of its original shape, even when leaving the intent.

I didn't mention organ or other keyboard music, choir or instrumental offerings or possible liturgical settings, but I have opinions about those, too.

5) What's your go-to music ... when you need solace or want to express joy? A video/recording will garner bonus points!

Go-to-music... beyond Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 7? Roy Harris, Symphony No. 3 and a lot of songs that have been top-40 hits or close to that number. Martin Page, House of Stone and Light; Bruce Springsteen, The Rising; Jewel Kilcher, Absence of Fear; Huey Lewis and the News, The Power of Love; Dire Straits, Walk of Life... you get the idea!

Thanks so much, MaryBeth!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Season of Creation 3c: Storm Sunday

19 September 2010

Today is Storm Sunday, the third for this year's Season of Creation liturgical emphasis. With Ocean Sunday, we pondered and celebrated the earth's circulatory system. Fauna Sunday was a time to consider critters of all kinds that depend on humans for their sustenance and health, just as trees, rivers, forests and prairies do—animals are a major aspect of our interdependent world! Next Sunday, the twelfth and last will be Cosmos Sunday. Paralleling the Revised Common Lectionary, the Season of Creation includes a year for Matthew, one for Mark, and then Luke.

Hurricane Katrina - Biloxi, Mississippi

It feels as if especially during the five years since Katrina turned the world's eyes and hearts to the city of New Orleans and to the ineptitude of the federal government's response, every time there's a natural disaster media outlets overwhelm us with constant updates about the most recent hurricane, earthquake, oil spill, tornado or assorted "other" weather phenomena that disrupt the sometimes routine days of our lives.

In the reading from the Hebrew Bible, Job [28:21-22] inquires about wisdom, responding with words about some not readily apparent ways of being wise: “Where then does wisdom come from? And where is the place of understanding? It is hidden from the eyes of all living, and concealed from the birds of the air."

Paul's first letter to the Corinthian Church forms the second pericope or scripture selection for Storm Sunday. At first glance its relevance may seem a stretch, since Paul again is all about the cross of Calvary and again Paul recognizes the paradoxical power of weakness, vulnerability and death, along with servant wisdom found in the cross. Paul trusts the invincibility of life in the overwhelming power of resurrection. In fact, you could say that for Paul the Gospel is death and resurrection!

23we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

Major seismic and atmospheric events can cause widespread destruction of all kinds, more often than not disproportionately impacting lives and surroundings of folks with fewer financial and other resources. It's well-known that people living in neighborhoods with more up-to-date infrastructure have better schools and get better coverage from police, fire and politicians. At 7.2 the Easter Day Sierra El Mayor geological event that shook, rattled and rolled Northern Mexico and Southern California was higher on the Richter scale than the 7.0 Haiti quake on 12 January. Alta and Baja California regions still are getting substantial aftershocks, but they warrant no more than a "did you feel that one?" while Haiti remains in chaotic disrepair and there probably never will be an accurate death count or reckoning of total costs. According to today's famous passage from Luke, the disciples "...were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, 'Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?'

"Who is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him." Hebrew and Christian worldviews emerged from God's self-revelation within religious contexts in which people believed that far away, distant, unapproachable gods caused natural disasters and disturbances out of their anger and displeasure with humans, along with more-or-less predictably cycles and recycles of the same events. The experience of God's nascent people Israel and later those of the early Church – I'd hope our experience as 21st century Christians, too – with the God who is Creator and Lord of the waves and the winds (the desert, the savanna and the outback, and Lord of history, too...) was distinctly different! This was not a remote deity requiring sacrifice and placation, but a God so in love with creation that in Jesus of Nazareth God chose to live as a human creature. Not only has the endless recurrence of the very same thing stopped in its tracks, this God promises and provides a hope, a future and the reality of resurrection from the dead.

Job asks about wisdom; the apostle Paul tells us about God's wisdom. When the very young John Calvin pondered compiling a systematic theology, he wondered whether to begin with Divinity or with Humanity but finally decided it made no difference, since the outcome of either would be identical. Back in the days of Jesus the Nazarene it was not unusual to be talking with someone who was half mortal, half divine—the offspring of a human and a god. In Jesus Christ we find something more: a Savior, a Lord both completely mortal and completely divine; in Christ Jesus we discover that the fullness of humanity and the fullness of divinity are one and the same! Baptized into his death and resurrection and walking with Jesus in trust, we participate in his humanity and claim his divinity. Martin Franzmann's poetry sings, "Thy strong Word bespeaks us righteous, bright with Thine Own Holiness."

A blizzard or flood, tsunami or environmental accident originating oceans and continents away from where we live or a block away from home will affect all of us wherever we are. Because of our intertwined lives, last January's earthquake in Haiti wounded and broke all of us. Each of us can be counted among Deepwater Horizon's victims and survivors.

Will major meteorological events keep on happening? Without a doubt they will. "Who is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him."

Who are we, the people of God? We live baptized into Jesus Christ, so do the oceans and the breakers obey us? God calls us to be co-creators and faithful stewards of all creation, to live as agents of justice, renewal, restoration and mercy for all, in those ways and probably many others, also, to be the presence of Jesus Christ...

Friday, September 10, 2010

season of creation 2c: Fauna Sunday

12 September 2010litany

leader: In celebration we bring our hopes, our sorrows, our confusions and our futures before God Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier on this Fauna Sunday!

response: From the rising of the sun, until the moon shines down, horses, eagles, mountain goats, hawks and sparrows all rejoice in your gracious love.

leader: You have given humanity a place in the order of creation and have called us to keep your covenant of loving care and provision with birds of the air, fish of the sea, with insects, marsupials, felines and bovines…

response: That we would help preserve natural habitats so hummingbirds, lions, camels, leopards and all safely may flourish and raise their young without fear.

leader: We give thanks for our companion animals

response: For cats, dogs, gerbils, parakeets, hedgehogs and goldfish.

leader: We admit that humanity has abused animal life for utility, experimentation and entertainment rather than living with them as covenant partners.

response: We repent of ways society has injured and exploited innocence.

leader: We resolve to allow the wild to run free and not invade their spaces;

response: We promise to keep wilderness a place holy sanctuary and safe shelter.

leader: Your Spirit of life fills all creatures!

response: Let everything that flies and all the crawling creepers

leader: From arctic to savanna to mountaintop

response: From rivers to prairies, from micro critters to mammoth animals

leader: With howling wolves, braying donkeys and swarming bees

all: Let all praise the name of the Lord and glorify the Christ in the Spirit!

Monday, August 30, 2010

season of creation 1c: Ocean Sunday

The Season of Creation is a recent emphasis for liturgical observation as late summer cycles into fall in the northern hemisphere, winter into spring in the southern. The site explains
What Is the Season of Creation?

For four Sundays in September, prior to St Francis of Assisi Day, we join in celebrating with Christ the wonders of creation. In the liturgy, we follow the lead of the psalm writers and celebrate with creation — with the forests, the rivers and the fields, which praise the Creator in their own way. Bible readings focus especially on the story of Earth, which complements the story of God and the story of humanity in the Scriptures. We commit ourselves to a ministry of healing Earth, with Christ and creation as our partners.
Norman Habel gives us part of the history; here's an excerpt:
The season of Creation begins as an Australian story. I, like many in our Lutheran Church in Australia, grew up in the bush. I climbed every tree within miles. I felt close to creation: the soil, the streams and the sounds of the bush. Celebrating the creation I love has long been one of my dreams.

season of creation 1c: Ocean Sunday
Needless to say, this is very in process and well may be different within a couple days; if you use these prayers, please make your own changes and additions as freely as you like.

Call to Worship

leader: As we gather for worship today in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, let us bless the Lord for the bounty of creation, the mercy of redemption and the hope of a new creation.

response: We bless you Lord God, for the wonder and majesty of sun, moon, stars and seas, for all of earth's abundance, for the love of Jesus Christ and for the gift of the Spirit in our midst.

ocean sundayleader: Today on Ocean Sunday we especially remember your provision of water ranging from deeps of the primal creation, to rivers that flowed from Eden, through streets of the new Jerusalem. On this Ocean Sunday we also acknowledge and repent of ways we have squandered and spoiled gifts you called us to care for.

response: We admit our sin and wrongfulness in behaviors that have harmed the waters, that have hurt creatures who live in the oceans and rivers and have broken the lives of humans who depend on water for income, nutrition, sustenance and health. We especially repent of the complicity, ignorance and greed that led to the recent disaster in the Gulf Coast region of the United States of America. We ask for your forgiveness as we resolve to start over with new awareness and sensitivity, that we might live as bringers of the new creation.

leader: In gratitude and in hope we remember, retell and reappropriate stories of gifts of water that carried Noah's ark to salvation, that splashed from the rock in the exodus desert, that became the boundary of promised land freedom, that in baptism is the tomb of our death and womb of our new life in Jesus Christ.


God of glorious love, your Word calls forth the mystery and magnificence of creation! We ask that you would make us faithful stewards and caretakers of your gifts, especially brooks, creeks, seas, and glaciers, that all might be redeemed, live and thrive to give life to others, through Jesus Christ, who was baptized in the waters of the River Jordan, became living water to the world and sends us forth to baptize by water, Word and Spirit. Amen!

Eucharistic Prayer
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to God.
It is joy to offer thanks and praise!
This is a day of hope! This is a time to celebrate the gift of water, to recall and reclaim the redemption of everything there is!

Lord God, you laid the foundation of the earth and set firm its cornerstone;
You were there when the morning stars sang together;
You commanded the morning, and showed dawn its time of awakening;
Your word formed the springs of the seas and spread out the expanse of the earth with all that grows from it.
You gave a portion of your Spirit to all creation,
and charged humanity with stewardship of the works of your hands.

By water and Word you claimed and baptized us as your people;
You have given us water and bread and fruit of the vine as signs of your presence among us;
You call us and send us to proclaim your gospel of love and justice to all the world.

And so with the company of heaven and with all creation in every time and every place we sing:
Holy are you, God of mercy, glory and love, and blessed is Jesus your son, who lived among us in a body made from stuff of the earth.
Jesus died for the redemption of all creation,
and was raised from death for the life of the world.
He ascended to reign in justice and righteousness over everything his Word had created.
With the Church in all the ages we proclaim the mystery of faith:
Dying you destroyed our death;
Rising you restored our life;
Lord Jesus, come in glory!
bread and cupOn the night of betrayal and desertion, our Lord Jesus took bread; when he had given thanks, he broke it and said,
"This is my body, broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me."
In the same way after supper, he also took the cup, saying,
"This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."
As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes again in glory.
Come, Spirit of Holiness; come upon all creation everywhere and upon this assembly of saints;
Come, Holy Spirit; sanctify these gifts of grain and grape uniting us with all creation in every time and every place;
Come, Spirit of Life and bless our feasting at this table of reconciliation and renewal,
That baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,
in the power of the Spirit we may daily live as the gracious presence of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.

Glory and thanks
wisdom, acclaim
dominion and righteousness be to God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
endlessly throughout eternity,

© leah chang 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

back to school 5

Songbird hosts dorm life Friday 5

Songbird's original title, "dorm life 5" had a class and culture bias that didn't fit my experience; at first I changed it to "undergrad days 5" but wanted to make my answers broader, so I'm going with back to school 5:

1) I never actually went away to school; although some kids in my neighborhood and high school headed toward some kind of higher education, for the most part they researched, applied to schools and figured out their own ways to find scholarships, grants and work that would pay for it without much if any parental help or intervention at any stage of the way. Some kept on living in the home of their parent or parents; others, like myself, found an apartment with roommates. Nonetheless, the cats were hard to leave behind when I moved out.

2) My parent made very little fuss about my venture out into the world of higher education except to warn me there was no way I wouldn't fail miserably.

3) I have lots and lots of favorite memories of activities with schoolmates. For a few: Red Sox games at Fenway Park; Nativity Lessons and Carols at Harvard's Memorial Church that I started loving as an undergrad and later enjoyed as a seminarian; weekday evening Celtics games at the old Boston Garden; driving up the shore (North Shore of Boston) after church on Sundays to enjoy the beach or all the way to Gloucester for seafood and boat views; rush tickets for Friday afternoon Boston Symphony concerts. Where now are the friends I enjoyed those activities with?

4) Among necessities of college life that seem hilariously anachronistic these days would be lining up outside the computer lab at 6:30 am to get terminal time--the campus was in Boston but the mainframe was far away in Amherst! Although people still have the answering machines we couldn't be without back in the day, I've had only a cellphone for several years now and find its voice mail extremely convenient. For several reasons I never opted for landline phone company's voice mail option.

5) An innovation of today I wish had been part of my undergrad years? Oh, so many. iPods (anthro professor complained longly and loudly about the outrage of people living their private lives in public by walking around wearing Walkmen/ Walkpersons all the time); flash/thumb drives/ memory sticks that have become ubiquitous only during the past few years and weren't even imagined way back when (and, of course, the ability to create better than perfunctory word processing documents not to mention the spreadsheet and art-oriented applications). Cell phones...

My college days actually were quite a while ago, but I never lived in a dorm so can't cite any currently funny-seeming dormitory rules or regs and at the moment can't recall any similar dumb expectations within the greater society. However, I'm a not-unusual combination of iconoclast and people-pleaser, so requirements I encountered tended to get flaunted or meticulously obeyed.

Friday, August 20, 2010

de/re/clutter 5

Today Jan hosts Re/De-Clutter Friday 5

declutterFor my own intro I'll mention how Erik Erikson speaks of the "furniture of self," and says to lose the "sum of one's possessions" is to lose evidence of who one is. Over these years I've lost so very much that hasn't rewoven and regenerated no matter how generously I parse and reconstruct it, I suspect I'm still hanging on to quite a few material objects I'll be able to separate from with at least a little equanimity as soon as a place of community, acknowledgment and participation – a place of life – finds me again. Oh, I've been looking for a long time yet still I suspect it has to find me. Is it not about grace?

1. I like to hang on to anything with great color combinations so ceramic mugs (also a few stoneware and a couple of china), quilts, textiles, etc.

2. For the hard to let go of things, although I've parted with lots of my textbooks and other assigned reading from university and professional school(s), I still have many of my notes and notebooks that I haven't looked at since the last century.

3. Easy to give away is the 5 or 6 big bags of clothes I seem to be able to collect every 5 or 6 months. They then go down to the nearby thrift store (ok, not by themselves; I take them there).

4. My answer to (2) is part of a kind of stumbling block connected with cleaning out, but also, in ages past I've found when my life is full and happy I've made relatively serious mistakes of giving away far too much that later I regretted. Clearly during those times, friends, relationships and opportunities for service have given meaning to my life and world so I haven't felt a need to try to construct meanings from external stuff.

5. Way back pre-kindergarten I wanted to design textiles or teach art, and I'm still easily enamored of color, pattern, line, texture and design. Therefore, I like to collect, hoard, and/or admire things that have an interesting spark of color, pattern, line, texture and/or design. Pottery, ceramics, textiles, sweaters, skirts, etc.

For my bonus "about recycling or whatever you can think of that goes along with this muttering about cluttering," I've recycled lots with the local freecycle and happily haven't had anything to post to the group for over a year now. You might call that through-cycling since who knows how much further stuff travels after leaving us?

Friday, August 06, 2010

friday 5: memories, memories...

Sally hosts today's memories, memories friday 5; in her intro she tells us:
This year Tim and I have planted and nurtured a vegetable garden, and I have just spent the morning preparing vegetables and soups for the freezer, our veggie garden is producing like crazy and it is hard to keep up with, that said it'll be worth it for a little taste of summer in the middle of winter :-). That got me thinking of the things I treasure, memories are often more valuable than possessions. How about you, can you share:
1.  Pictures in my head of myself as a preschooler sitting at the table drawing is a childhood memory that has borne fruit. I was going to be "an artist," and thought designing textiles or teaching art would be very cool, something I'd be very good at and that I'd love doing.

2. so many fun and hope-filled teenage memories, so I'll choose a few: designing fonts in class when I was supposed to be listening, learning or studying; hangin' out with friends; talking, listening, hoping and dreaming; playing in piano recitals and lots, lots more...

clark street3. This photo of Clark Street, where I lived as an undergrad, illustrates my young adult memory. Originally I thought I'd become an artist/ designer (check out 1.) had scholarships to art school and music school, and chose the latter. But during those years a Greater Love began drawing me, the course of my life changed and started winding, weaving, sidetracking and backtracking. Weather permitting, we'd go up on the roof of this building to do homework, talk, snack, listen to the radio on the boombox (ghetto blaster, portable stereo) ...songs from those years have been unforgettably engraved as precious memories. Try "Up On The Roof" by Carole King and Jerry Goffin in the very best version sung by James Taylor.

4. So far my best memory from this summer is the way I'm still keepin' on keepin' on in spite of everything (check out 5. for more about this one).

5. I long to start building new memories of activities and especially of meals, parties, conversations, picnics, lunches and snacks shared with friends.

Bonus: For my "song that sums up one of those memories," Bob Dylan's Dream. I didn't look for a vid since they tend to come and go from where they were found, and because I love Bob Dylan's site.

...the thought never hit
That the one road we traveled would ever shatter and split

To quote George F. Will, "A free future must begin with the freedom to talk about the past..."

thanks, Sally!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

lovin' the place you're in 5

kathrynzj hosts loving'the one you're with / lovin' the place you're in 5:

please name five things you like about where you are living now... and as your bonus - 1 thing you don't like.

1. year-round weather is great!!

2. 4 distinctly different climates within about a half-hour of each other: beach/ seacoast/ ocean; inland; desert; mountain...

sea bright new3. central business district, inner-city, working-class and affluent suburban within an easy concentric ring; small town and rural within about a 45-minute range; international border less than an hour away.

4. although my apartment complex weighs in on the side of Asian and Hispanic, there's also a fair African-American and Caucasian proportion, making for an excellently attractive ethnic and cultural mix.

5. lots of culinary and gastronomical diversity in locally owned, regional and national restaurants, fast-food, sit-down, high-end and "other" (whatever I mean by that).

bonus. during spring 2004 I observed, "I love being everywhere, feel everywhere is home for me, yet I always have a sense of longing not only for where I've just been but for every place I've ever lived. So I usually have a feeling of not belonging 'here' because of my intense longing for 'there!'"

Thursday, July 22, 2010

friday 5: decisions, decisions...

Songbird hosts this week's Friday 5:
Let's keep it simple and go with five word pairs. Tell us which word in the pair appeals to you most, and after you've done all five, give us the reason why for one of them.
These are fun and I'm adding reasons for all five of my answers.

1) If it's really really decadent, rich, and amply frosted, I'll take cake, but pie (better yet, cobbler) chocked full of fresh-picked berries is a blue-ribbon winner, too (please see my response to 4). Either one needs to be crowned with a huge scoop of ice cream--I adore Safeway's Homestyle Vanilla! It has a slightly rough texture along with pronounced vanilla flavor and only that one variety comes in that particular packaging.

2) Airplane, for speed, convenience and getting there without feeling unslept and unbathed. Trains carry a heavy freight of glamour, and I love watching and hearing Amtrak's California Zephyr glide through town. The commuter trains seem somewhat cool...

3) I'd choose not a PC but a Mac for sure, because of its ultra-high reliability and the way it supports design software (not to mention its high-end, techie, semi-geek image). But I'm completely cross-platform, so ultimately it's about whatever gets results without too much chugging or too many serious crashes.

4) I'm a theologian, so I do ambiguity, equivocation, mystery and ambiguity very very well. In case someone happens upon this blog and wonders about the other word in this pair, I'm giving univocal its separate sentence.

5) I like the language of both 1 Peter and 2 Peter, though I'm equivocal about the theology of both books. But who wouldn't and who couldn't love the guy Rocky/Peter/Simon bar Jonah? Paul/Saul, for all time, especially the undisputed epistles though Paul's language gets more and more difficult as his years and ministry progress.

Thanks so much, Songbird!

Monday, July 19, 2010

RevGalBlogPals is 5 today!

Today, 19 July 2010, Rev Gal Blog Pals (Guys and Friends), the intentional community and blogring I belong to celebrates its Fifth Birthday, Anniversary and Blogoversary. I designed a birthday card to parallel the one I made for this blog's eighth year:

rev gal blog pals @ 5

Happy Happy Day to all of us!!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

5 about pets

Jan hosts Pets or Not Friday 5

1. Yes, I grew up with pets and in fact had both cats and dogs before I was born. We always had at least one dog and three cats.

2. Currently I'm owned solely by one cat, the amazing and amazingly big bengal-style brown tabby boy AlleyMalibu, "AM."

Patches, Benjie Betsy3. I can't think of a funniest or worst thing my pets have done in terms of hilarity or destruction, but I hate the cat habit of hiding where they can't be found, and then after I've searched every possible place and concluded they must have escaped into the wild somehow, they nonchalantly appear from nowhere and ask "where is dinner?"

4. I wouldn't dare claim a favorite pet, though I've had more rapport and better soul-connections with some, but I will admit cats are my favorites, to the extent I'm definitely severely cataholic.

5. Given that as an adult I've had only cats, I don't train them but rather serve them.

My bonus pic is of Patches!, Benjamin/ Benjie and Betsy. Betsy and Patches! were littermates; all three are waiting for me at Rainbow Bridge.

Friday, July 09, 2010

forgetful 5

Songbird hosts today's forgetful Jones Friday 5

...original blog post was in blue for remembrance...

a) The last thing I forgot? I don't remember.

e) I track appointments and other options with an approx. 4" x 7" purse-sized paper calendar. For the past 10 years I've used the same kind (though they no longer make the slightly larger size I prefer that I think was 5" x 8") and I even save them at the end of the calendar year.

i) Yes, I typically keep a running grocery list and rarely shop without some kind of list... mainly recalling the time I needed 3 ingredients, including rice, and got home from the store with 3 ingredients minus rice.

o) When circumstances insist I improvise, I usually enjoy it but occasionally don't. The pastor I served with in Historical City (as opposed to City of History) told me I loved "the thrill of the chase," and he was right.

u) I hope I never forget the smells of sea air and scents of mountain flowers, the pungency of hot summer in the city, the olfactory sensations of vanilla, honeysuckle and gardenia. I hope to remember for all time the wows! of onions sizzling on the grill... I could list some taste phenomenons too, but will leave this 5 with smell.

Thanks, Songbird!