Saturday, December 31, 2011

covenant prayer

Covenant Prayer From John Wesley's Covenant Service, 1780

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
... exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

still waiting for redemption...

Jesus is here and I'm still waiting for redemption, yes I am! Plus, as I pulled together some scattered thoughts and notes, I realized most of them would work better for another, separate blog, possibly during early epiphany. Absolutely for sure I have a lot to say about ways following Jesus leads us into places and situations we wouldn't have guessed, and truly hope to do so soon.

Christmas synchroblog on wordpress and some [serving] suggestions:
"And Jesus doesn't always give us what we expect either. We welcome him as a cute little baby but if we continue to journey with him, we soon realize that he wants to turn our world upside down. A child born in a stable is much easier to cope with than a revolutionary leader. This month's synchroblog is centered around the unexpected consequences of our journey with Jesus. Where has it led us that we never anticipated? In what ways has it really turned our world upside down?"
Moving from my advent blog, gifts from the ground; hope for the earth to realizing even before the liturgical and popular celebrations of Jesus' birth on 24 and 25 December we've long known so much beyond the fulfillment of the Advent texts we've been hearing...

titus - grace has appearedBefore a baby arrives, we usually have a clue about the baby's parents, about some of their other relatives along with their backgrounds and experiences; we have more than a hint about the baby's geographical place on the planet along with their social and cultural milieu. Despite the quantifiable info, there's so much we don't know about ways that baby become child become teenager and then adult will engage the world, make a name in the news or on the street or possibly fade into oblivion. On the surface, the life of Jesus of Nazareth is pretty much parallel to almost anyone else's in that time and place. You know the narrative!

To quote from my Advent blog, "Though it's common to hear Christianity referred to as 'spiritual' practice, the way of Jesus is heavily economic, highly political and hardly ascetic in its celebration of gifts from the ground, in its perspective that insists on the interdependence of all life, in its historical affirmation of human sexuality and in its charge to care for all creation..."

Maybe especially though for sure hardly exclusively, as church bodies that grew out of the Reformation, we engage the public square and live as political, cultural and economic beings every bit as fully in the world as within the gathered assembly of the church. It's not solely "Jesus and me" but more expansively "Jesus and me in the world and for the world!" from Advent 2B: " accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home." 2 Peter 3:13

Unexpected consequences of my journey with Jesus? Like Jesus, I was born into linear time and measurable geography. Forget about Christmas 2011—have I been getting what I expected? No, hardly in the least. I prepared for a life of service to church and world, expecting to participate in the economic, political and not ascetic way of Jesus that celebrates all creation; academically and practically I prepared to engage the public square, to challenge and maybe subvert the status quo; I expected to live at least somewhat counter-culturally. I knew the road would be rocky, but never expected to journey alone for so many years and fully expected eventually to come out on the other side of death into a relatively broad space where my participation would be welcomed and valued.

At the end of my Advent synchroblog, I mentioned "a world that cries out for cooperation, interdependence and redemption." Will no one cooperate with, depend upon me, so I might be redeemed, bought back into the land of the living? How else can we live but with each other? How else will I live again?

other synchroblog participants:

• Glenn Hager, Breathe, Underwear for Christmas

• Jeremy Myers, Till He Comes, Unexpected Gifts from Jesus

• Jeff Goins, GoinsWriter, Day After Christmas

• Wendy McCaig, Unwanted gifts...

• Christine Sine, GodSpace, The Wait Is Over - What Did I Get?

• M Kettleson, The Real Journey, Following the Baby We Just Celebrated

• Kathy Escobar, pain relief not pain removal

• Ellen Haroutunian, Jesus came, did you get what you expected?...

• Carol Kuniholm, Words Half Heard, What the Magi Found

• Sally Coleman, Eternal Echoes, unexpected...

Friday, December 16, 2011

to-do list friday 5

to-do list Friday 5

Jan hosts again today and like me she doesn't "...have church services to plan, but there is much left to be done." In addition, she knows, "No matter how organized you are, there must be some things you still need to do. For this Friday Five, tell us five things on your Christmas 'To Do' List. Include anything you have decided to skip doing this year. As a bonus, give us something that helps you remember why this season even exists."

cat's meow Nauset Light winter1. I need to display a few more Christmas decorations like this Nauset Lighthouse at Christmas; so far the only one is the starry lights I won a few years ago at Presbyterian bingo that always goes in one of the front windows.

2. I'm trying to remember that it doesn't need to be like this...

3. I've been noticing Salvation Army commercials on tv (not sure if they're locally specific or not) and for sure those people remind me of myself. I'm thinking of trying to connect with the local Salvation Army and try to get some services that will help me stand and walk again, though that likely would be an after Christmas endeavor.

4. Start playing some fave Christmas music CDs again very very soon! A couple weeks ago I began listening evenings to local KyXy radio when I've been home and really enjoy their selections, especially "Mary, Did You Know?"

5. Trying not to count the years, but instead still be amazed at my accomplishments in so many areas despite everything.

bonus To remember the why of this season, I only need to be aware that in the northern hemisphere we're approaching the darkest, shortest days, and the darker it is, the better to notice and appreciate even the tiniest light.

Friday, December 09, 2011

random 5

At the stroke of midnight revkjarla posted today's random 5, "I invite you share five random things about you, or five random thoughts, or five random surprises in your life." Here's my play:

1. I'm astonished at my abilities to survive and produce quality art and theology despite everything. Oh, of course, I always perform well in public at the drop of a hint, so that one's no surprise, but musical performances do not depend on my own creativity and inner resourcefulness as writing and designing do. As I observed on facebook yesterday, Oprah pointed out to a teenager long ago that no one can do life on their own. Your abilities, dreams, desires and hard work matter not at all, without that others, those others, community and context it's all a no go.

2. I'm surprised to find myself both in the usual countdown to winter solstice (you know how quickly the days seem to get longer with more sunshine!) plus actually enjoying the shorter days and happy to be in an unusual southern californian chill as well as a cool, dry Santa Ana. The stereotypical Santa Ana condition features high winds, low humidity and very high ambient temps. I love celebrating the Feast of the Unvanquished Sun followed by the birth of the Sun of Righteousness a few days later.

3. I'm trying to keep this positive, but the trend of ignoring emails, phone calls, snail mail and other inquiries that once was considered a southern california habit (as in "I'll chillax at this job until surf's up and then I am soooo out of here") seems to have extended to everyone, everywhere and that does surprise me.

4. Although I knew there would be exceptions and way back when during the showdown between our church council and the judicatory staff if you'd asked me closely I'd have admitted there would be many exceptions, I remain astonished at my ongoing inability to connect with opps related to my background (gifts, education, experience), esp since for the most part I've simply tried plugging into existing ministries.

5. I played Friday 5 today, yay!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

faith, order & witness opening prayer

today I offered this prayer to open our Faith, Order and Witness meeting

Holy God, whose Spirit of Life pervades all creation, again you have called us together as a small segment of the church in this county and as people longing for essential unity in Christ yet aware of our denominational differences and distinctions.

Recently we celebrated the supreme Lordship of Jesus Christ and look forward to another journey through Advent and into Christmas and on from there. In some ways we think we already now "what's next," we think we've been there a few times before, yet we also acknowledge you as God of astonishing surprises, including the ultimate surprise of resurrection from the grave.

May our prayerful efforts to understand each others histories and perspectives in this tiny, remnant-style group act as small stones cast into a large pond whose ripples reach out to bring others in.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

gifts from the ground; hope for the earth

This is part of the more-or-less monthly synchroblog series when as many people who choose get to blog on the same topic at the same time.

Advent synchroblog on wordpress and what's going on: "To begin Advent we are exploring ideas that are encompassed in "Jesus Is Coming: What Do You Expect?" ... What are we expecting? How will it impact our lives and our faith?"

I really really appreciate getting a writing (or designing) prompt, something a little more specific than "Advent again!" or "Lectionary Year B again!" and wondering how our expectations might influence and make a mark in our lives and world feels just right. You can read the scriptures on textweek and elsewhere.

advent 1The texts for lectionary year B - Mark's year again - are about [God's!] faithfulness and about restoration; about transgression and redemption; about covenant and place. Images of personified nature in action, apocalyptic visions and unconventional human pregnancies. When we're pondering secular history, interpreting the past through the present - historicism - is bad form, but we interpret promises and events in scripture through the present literally all the time. During advent we hear about preparations and predictions and although we already know Jesus was born and Jesus still is here, what does it mean to live as people of hope, people once again awaiting God's promised presence in this early 21st century year 2011? From scripture, from Jesus of Nazareth's ministry and from God's grace-filled, Spirit-enabled call to the Church, we know nature is not the backdrop, nor is it the stage, the arena or even the means of God's action and self-revelation; in many ways nature is an actor and an end in itself.

The Feast of the Nativity, the first in the trilogy of great trinitarian celebrations with Easter (redemption) and Pentecost (sanctification) to follow is "The" supreme celebration of Creation. Christmas gifts ideally are gifts of creation: cookies; quick breads; pickled herring; mulled wine; homemade candles; hand knit scarves and sweaters. Considering Judaism's and Christianity's affirmation and celebration of the body and of the natural, phenomenological world, is it surprising (or is it possibly not at all surprising?) that at nativity-tide we acknowledge a newborn infant essentially formed from the substance of the same earth that grows crops to nourish us and that's closely related to other animals, "animate beings," that give yarn for knitting, help fertilize the ground, land that grows trees that shade, that gift us with lumber to make houses and shopping centers... we read scripture backwards and realize this baby named "Jesus - Save!" is the start of the New Creation!

Though it's common to hear Christianity referred to as "spiritual" practice, the way of Jesus is heavily economic, highly political and hardly ascetic in its celebration of gifts from the ground, in its perspective that insists on the interdependence of all life, in its historical affirmation of human sexuality and in its charge to care for all creation—in sacramental theology we even speak of the capacity of the finite to contain the infinite! Advent marks the start of a brand-new liturgical year and in these advent texts we again discover nature and the created environment are not the theater of God's revelation, not the stage of history, but integral to God's actions in history.

from Advent 2B: " accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home." 2 Peter 3:13

from Advent 4B: 6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place ... 2 Samuel 7

The Feast of the Nativity, the first in order of the trilogy of great trinitarian celebrations with Easter (redemption) and Pentecost (sanctification) to follow is "The" supreme liturgical celebration of Creation; historically Christmas gifts have been gifts of creation.

What now? What do I expect and what am I planning to do for the start of this new liturgical year? How can I live in hope for the earth and for those who make earth their dwelling-place? I'm doing what I can to make my gifts this nativitytide not only gifts of creation but gifts for creation. Like someone trying to sort through accumulated notes, texts, papers and related from a few hundred years of school (that does sound autobiographical?) or similar to doable advice from cognitive behavioral therapy, I'm starting small. Loving where I am and showing it by consuming as little as possible, buying local, bartering goods and services rather than exchanging currency whenever possible. A couple loaves of bread in exchange for a pair of knit mittens? A locally sourced, home-cooked meal for clean windows?

Nature is no more spectator than humans are! In sacramental theology we speak of the capacity of the finite to contain the infinite… whether your theology considers baptism an ordinance or a sacrament, it can't happen without clean, flowing water. Whatever your theology of the Lord's Supper, Holy Communion, the Eucharist, it cannot happen without fertile soil, unfiltered sun, farmers and vintners and bakers, potters and speakers of the word.

I'm starting small this year, by giving gifts of creation to a world that cries out for cooperation, interdependence and redemption.

other participants include
• ron cole at the weary pilgrim – advent: reimagining everything
• liz dyer at grace rules – expect the unexpected
• mix melly at perchance to dream – parousia
• kathy escobar at the carnival in my head – present, humble, vulnerable
• David Perry at Visual Theology – Advent As A Mirror of Possibility
• Christine Sine at Godspace – Jesus Is Coming What Do We Expect?
• Liz VerHage at Living Theology
• Sally Coleman at Sally's Journey – Come Spirit of Advent
• Jeremy Myers at Till He Comes – Jesus Is Returning Today
• Glenn Hager – Antithetical Advent
• Ellen Haroutunian – Remember Our Story
• Carol Kuniholm at Words Half Heard – What I'm Waiting For
• Mihee Kim-Kort  – Advent Expectations: Keep Awake
• John Reid at Blog One Another – Undiscovered Advent: The Second Coming of Christ
• Dave Wainscott – For Advent I'm Expecting What I Desire and What I Deserve
• David Henson – Reflections on the Second Sunday of Advent
• david perry at visualtheology – word, life space and enlightenment

Thursday, November 24, 2011

It is good to give thanks...

"It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord,
and to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
To tell of your loving kindness early in the morning
and of your faithfulness in the night season;
On the psaltery and on the lyre
and to the melody of the harp.
For you have made me glad by your acts, O Lord;
and I shout for joy because of the works of your hands.

"It is good, it is good, it is good, to give thanks to the Lord on high
To sing of Your faithfulness and loving kindness both day and night
To play on our instruments sweet songs of praise for the things You do
It is good, it is good, it is good, to give thanks to You."

"It Is Good," Psalm 92 by Ron Kenoly

│◥███◣ ╱◥███◣
╱◥◣ ◥████◣▓∩▓│∩ ║
│╱◥█◣║∩∩∩ ║◥█▓ ▓█◣
││∩│ ▓ ║∩田│║▓ ▓ ▓∩ ║
♥•°*”˜˜”*°• From our house to your house •°*”˜˜”*°•♥
♥•°*”˜˜”*°•Happy Thanksgiving to Family and Friends•°*”˜˜”*°•♥

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Reign of Christ: Eucharistic Prayer

disclaimer: I wrote this over four years ago and I've posted it with no changes or revisions.

• 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 right to give both thanks and praise!

Holy God, Mighty Lord, Renewer of Creation and Bringer of Joy,
endless are your mercies and unending your grace!
Maker of stars and Giver of dreams,
it is privilege indeed to acclaim and adore you!

At the dawn of time your Word spoke order out of chaos and disorder, and brought beauty into your glorious light;

You formed humanity in your image and drew us into covenant with you; you called us to be your reconciling Presence in the world.

When we strayed from your path and fled from your presence, choosing idols and intellect rather than Spirit and Freedom, you led us through the wilderness into a country flowing with your extravagant supply.

When rebellion against your righteous law broke us once again, you would not let this world remain shattered, and in Jesus of Nazareth, born of Mary, born under the law, you lived among us.

You baptized us with water, with fire and with your Spirit;
and sent Bread from Heaven to keep us wholly alive.

Therefore, in celebration with the people of God in all the ages, with all creation and with the angelic hosts of heaven, we sing:

Holy are you, God of Majesty and Awe,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son, our Redeemer and Lord.

Leaving the boundlessness of heaven,
he came to earth, experiencing doubt, betrayal and abandonment
yet bearing the weight of sin and separation,
he carried us into the liberty of your grace.

Bound to the tree of shame on Calvary's Hill,
shedding his innocent blood, he sealed the covenant between heaven and earth.

bread and cupBroken and dying for all creation's sake
rising to new life from the bondage of the tomb
he delivered us from sin and death,
forming the new creation promised by your prophets.

Remembering Jesus Christ's birth, life, death and resurrection,
with the Church in every place and every time, we proclaim the mystery of faith:
Christ has died;
Christ is risen;
Christ will come again!
On the night of betrayal and desertion, our Lord Jesus took bread,
and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body which is 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 the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes again in glory.
Giver of the journey and Bestower of the gifts,

Send down your Spirit of holiness and transformation,
and sanctify these gifts of bread and cup uniting us to all creation in every place and in every time.

Send down upon this assembly of your creation and redemption – and upon the world – your Spirit of life and renewal;

Calm our anxieties and quiet our fears.

Make us bearers of your grace
that we may be your reconciling embrace for the world, reclaiming, restoring and transforming all creation into the reign of heaven on earth.

Then, at last, when endless morning comes,
when all brokenness is whole and holy,
when all creation once again redeemed,
with all the saints of every time and place
as the family of God in Jesus Christ we will gather around heaven's Welcome Table,

we will sing alleluias to you,
through Jesus Christ, crucified and Risen
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
endlessly into eternity, amen!
forever and ever,


© Leah Chang

Friday, November 18, 2011

t-day 5

Since next Thursday is Thanksgiving Day USA, today Jan hosts 5 about giving thanks

1. I hope again to be a little north of here with my friend and neighbor's family of origin.

2. For T-Day-related family traditions or memories , I'll go with "memories." Over my adult years I've experienced many church social hall Thanksgiving feasts, including 2 or 3 times I volunteered to provide background piano music for the community thanksgiving in a nearby beach town. In High Desert City I did a cooperative thanksgiving with neighbors in my apt complex.

3. Last year we had classically traditional turkey, stuffing/dressing, gravy, fabulous mashed potatoes, cranberries and pies. Over the years I've become accustomed to a few ethnic dishes gathered around the Big Bird such as lasagna and ricotta pie when I lived in an Italian-American neighborhood, Soul Food in the inner city, comida Mexicana in the Southwest... but I like it any way.

4. I'm not trying anything new for T-day since I won't be in charge of the happenings but I am trying lots of new things otherwise and in the interest of blogging this won't list those here and now.

5. As of now weather next Thursday is forecast as sunny bright, high of 68, low of 54 for the coast, typically warmer inland, with various permutations for desert and mountains, the other two of our four local micro-climates.

Bonus: For a "Prayer, poem, song, or whatever you choose to exemplify your image of Thanksgiving (giving thanks)" it's always, always, "We Gather Together" sung to Kremser... wonderful memories of singing it in New England, "Let thy congregation escape tribulation..." and serendipitously one Sunday morning at the Roman Catholic St Bavo in Haarlem. Seems as if it's been a late November favorite wherever I've lived.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the USA and territories, Happy next Thursday, wherever you are and thanks, Jan, welcome back!

Friday, November 11, 2011

5 for 11/11/11

Songbird hosts today's 11.11.11 5; here's the drill: "For today's Friday Five, share five ways you or someone you know likes to turn it up to 11. How have you gone beyond the usual expected limits? Feel free to interpret this as eccentrically as possible."

My first throughout was this one's for me, since I tend to run everything into the ground... then I had difficulties coming up with 5, though eventually these fell into line and besides, I srsly wanted to blog for 11/11/11.

1. Long ago, probably in HS, I compiled a collage from magazine pictures and words to read, "Your opinion? Follow your heart, the best is yet to come!" and added the essential kicker, "but... you've got to be an expert." I've done whatever it has taken to achieve a level of expertise or close to it in most of what I've attempted, and I've found that most of the time my abilities have lead to my exclusion rather than inclusion. A few years ago someone was looking over my shoulder at this blog and some of my design I had up on the computer and she said, "You're a treasure! People should be exploiting you!" I agreed and still agree with that assessment, they should be and I wanted to reply, "That's just my art and my theology. You should hear me play the piano..." (but of course I didn't.)

2. Slowly and carefully making my way through most of J.S. Bach's organ music: about 18 of the arguably couple dozen major preludes/fantasies/toccatas and fugues; the 4 concerto transcriptions, 4 of the 6 trio sonatas; all of the 18 Great, Leipziger chorale preludes; the 6 Schübler chorale preludes; large and small catechism chorales (Clavierübung part 3); some assorted other pieces with no intention ever of making a life as a musician. The level of discipline and each accomplishment simply feels so good!

3. I wait for people to come through (for me) and I wait for situations to develop, ripen and resolve, which is most cases has been a fruitful, healthy practice and discipline, but occasionally it hasn't been. As they say, most psychological pathology is an exaggeration of normal, usually healthy traits.

4. I couldn't think of 5 in time to publish this blog, so this #4 continues #3. However, I've moderated in some important ways. For example, I've been able to take my own advice not to continue pursuing situation "m" or making excuses for individual "n," but still to stay open to them for future developments.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

All Saints' Images

I realize these 1st and 2nd lections aren't the RCL texts, but they are Lutheran Book of Worship and that sometimes differs a little.

Isaiah 26:1-4; 8-9; 12-13; 19-21

Isaiah 26:9

Revelation 21:9-11; 22-27; (22:1-5)

Revelation 22:2

Matthew 25:1-12

Matthew 5 beatitudes

Friday, November 04, 2011

friends friday 5

Today kathrynzj hosts time with friends 5... would you believe this topic creates a firestorm in me?! But I'm playing anyway! intro:
For today's Friday Five please tell us 5 things you like to do with friends. Are they local - do you hit a favorite coffee shop or nail salon? What about the friends who come in from out of town? Do you have a restaurant or museum you like to show off?
Real vs. ideal keeps meeting me face-to-face (hitting me over the head); since I'm still trying hard to reweave social and professional networks and still trusting both will happen when I'm not looking, here's a list of what I used to do and would like to do again. BTW, as many excuses as I make for this being Southern California and the 21st century, those factors must be only minor, since all around me in real life and in online comments and status updates I observe people socializing with friends and living a life not too dissimilar to the way mine used to be. In sage green, here's my 5:

1. Lunch has gotta be first on the list, preferably at a nice but affordable sit-down restaurant, but Mexican fast food will do in a $$$ pinch.

2. An afternoon at the beach. Walking along the shore in cooler weather, talking and snacking under an umbrella or in a cabaña in summer months or early autumn.

3. A day at the zoo or safari park, formerly wild animal park.

4. Anza-Borrego State Park: the desert again, maybe especially when and if it's in glorious bloom, but always at other times to be stripped clean and to know beneath its bleak, crazed beauty life teams, sometimes unseen and not perceived, but remembered, re-called, and trusted.

5. I'm longing to have peeps in my life again who'll simply stop by my place and will be excited about helping me pick out my entry to the next art show, willing to read and comment on my recent theology blog, my latest thrift store find.

What people tend to hear me say is I'm not getting the ministry opps I crave and need, and I'm definitely not, though those were starting to reweave and regenerate a few years ago but then dropped off into a bottomless abyss. Something I can do about the situation is to get out of rationalization and denial...? Spending days, months, years and now decades without real life friends is similar to being without nutritious food. As persistently and wisely as I claim and rejoice in the sacraments and the liturgy that connect me with the whole people of God in every place and time, that simply is not enough. I feel brittle but I know I'm too tough to really break.

Thanks, Kathryn; peace, world!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Wall Street / Our Street

November synchroblog: Wall Street / Our Street

November synchroblog on wordpress: calling us out of numbness. Every month we get to blog at the same time on the same topic!

Richard Rohr says "the role of the prophets is to call us out of numbness." Since the beginning of time, prophetic voices both in and outside of scripture have been calling us to consider change of some sort. ... Regardless of the emphasis, prophets challenge us to consider a better future. Right now there's a strong sense of change brewing...

This month's Synchroblog is centered on where are you being challenged by some kind of prophetic voice.
  • What is it stirring up in you?
  • What is God challenging you to consider?
  • How does it intersect with your faith & practical experience?
The popular media has been showing and telling us a lot about the consensus in the meritocracy, on The [Wall] Street and company; I'm wondering about the common sense on Main Street where most of us spend most of our time.

wall street with flag and sky by Maely SchassinThe San Diego River winds through a section of this city, lending its name to Camino Del Rio - Way of the River - in west, north and south designations. Most of the time it crawls along instead of running through because it has become a dumping ground for trash and has caught on fire a number of times. But in any case, the current moves you along. As we read in the book of Acts, the early church sometimes referred to Christians as followers of "The Way" of Jesus. The early church always baptized in the flowing water of a river: you can't step into the same river more than once, since it's always in motion, the waters that were here then are over there now--that's how is is with the Way of the River, the Riverway; we live out our baptism with similar fluidity and unpredictability.

God calls us and baptizes us into the way of justice for all creation, but since that is extremely historically and geographically generic, what's happening right here on the street where I live and on nearby mesas and canyons and beachfronts?  For one thing, similar to a lot of other cities, there's been a fairly active Occupy San Diego movement that spun off from Occupy Wall Street and that's been "occupying" the plaza around City Hall. As their Facebook page points out, "1% of the people who live in the United States own and control the wealth, while the remaining 99% of the population struggle to make ends meet and there those who fail in that goal due to the fact their voices and their needs go unnoticed by the controlling 1%." And I know peeps who are getting involved in more visibly conservative political, social and economic movements that also aim to return agency and a measure of control to that 99% of the regular people--it's still the case that those who hold the gold typically have the say; in other words, they're financially articulate and verbally articulate, too: money talks.

Eddie Vedder sings "The Times They are a-Changin'" by Bob Dylan and notice this performance is from Voices for Justice Rally. A selection from the lyrics:
Come writers and critics who prophesize with your pen // And keep your eyes wide; the chance won't come again // And don't speak too soon, for the wheel's still in spin // And there's no tellin' who that it's namin', for the loser now will be later to win // For the times they are a-changin'

The line it is drawn; the curse it is cast // The slow one now will later be fast // As the present now will later be past // The order is rapidly fadin' And the first one now will later be last // For the times they are a-changin' ...
(the complete song: The Times They Are A-Changin').

Doesn't that sound like the Magnificat? "He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty." ...Luke 1:52-53

urban alley / street by Ethan Wilkinson

God calls us to make the ministry of Jesus, the words of the Magnificat Miriam sang our own, to make them living realities in the world, particularly in our very nearby vicinities.

What is stirring in me on this early November day? How is God challenging me and what would common sense advise? What's the Camino del Rio, the Way of Jesus, our baptismal call in this intersection of history and geography? What situation, circumstances and words call me out of numbness and even might cause me to help others to enlivening action?

The scriptures and the liturgy long have been the currency of my life; the patterns and rhythms of the liturgical year shape and inform my days, weeks, months and years. It's now November, late in the greening, growing "ordinary" or ordered season of Pentecost that's sometimes referred to as the Time of the Church. Soon Advent will be here, with texts and symbols full of promises, cautions, warnings, charges to repent--and replete with hope. John The Baptist preaches and pushes us into initiating God's way of justice - especially distributive justice - in our lives and worlds before we meet the God of heaven come to earth in the fragile vulnerability of the Bethlehem manger. Wouldn't you think God's presence in our very midst in human form that we can encounter face to face would be a time for "Hallelujahs?!" The jagged, colorful, apocalyptic and prophetic images that meet us at right angles to much of our everyday manner of living and being also stir us out of complacency about completing yet another liturgical year again... What is stirring up in me and the air around me? That question reminds me of the Advent collects that each open with, "Stir up your power, O Lord..." Stir up your power in us, O Lord!

From where I live in an ethnically, socially, demographically diverse section of the city there are some simple ways to start. For example, on the day after the US celebrates Thanksgiving that's been called Black Friday because retailers typically are able to balance their books from the purchasing power of the day, instead try Buy Nothing Day or better yet, make it a day to Buy Local from nearby-based manufacturers, vendors, artisans, farmers and crafters, literally seeking the welfare of the place where we live. For example, in the wake of the excessive greediness of most of the mega-banks, there's been a tremendous run on consumer-friendly credit unions. Another example is the woman who started a signature petition that before long convinced one mega-bank and then others to discontinue debit card fees. Those types of actions are as simple as they sound and they're doable, too. Each of us can be the beginning of helping fill the hungry with good things and lifting up the lowly. Bringing down the mighty from their thrones? The first ones now later being last? Justice just may make that happen!

The river is always in motion, so you can't step into it more than once; the always in motion current will move us along together, taking us somewhere other than where we started. What God calls us to do today may be finished tomorrow, when we can seek different challenges as together in the Spirit we travel the Way of the River together in church and community and making the world more just and livable.

Not surprisingly, I have enough ideas on this for a second post, so maybe soon. To be continued? I hope so—peace!

PS Due to YT vids coming and going, I've been deleting links to them but keeping the song titles so you can find your own performances

City street/alley by Ethan Wilkinson; Wall Street by Maely Schassin, both via Unsplash.

Other synchroblog participants:

• Joy Wilson - Solacetree - The Blessing of Losing Your Faith
• Jeremy Myers - Till He Comes - I Have a Dream
• Glenn Hager - Breathe - Uncomfortably Numb
Sally - Eternal Echoes - Where are the true prophets?
• Alan Knox - the assembling of the church - "My Word of Prophecy: stop listening to prophetic voices"
• Liz Dyer - Grace Rules - Listen
• Linda - kingdom grace - on earth as it is in heaven
• Christine Sine - Godspace - Surrounded by Prophetic Voices: Clouds of Witnesses That Call Us Out of Numbness
• Amy Martin - The Window of Suffering, the Beginning of Hope
• Kathy Escobar - The Carnival in My Head - rising up from below
• K.W. Leslie - More Christ - What is God Challenging You to Do?
• Katharine Gunn - Truth Makes Freedom - Where is Your Heart?
• Steve Hayes - Khanya - Murder of the Cathedral
• Tammy Carter - Blessing the Beloved - No compromise
• Katherine Gunn - A Voice in the Desert - Where Is Your Heart?
• Bobby Aunder - Deconstructing Neverland - Shift

Friday, October 28, 2011

what lifts you? 5

Today Sally hosts an easy and quick what lifts you 5.

"Serving Suggestions" from Sally "...I'd like you to share 5 things:

1. A Scripture: it might be a verse or a whole book! Lots and lots come to mind right away, but for right now I'll choose Revelation 22:1-5 and Colossians 1, 1:17b, "In Christ all things hold together."

2. A piece of music: Something like "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"... just as for scripture, I could list a couple dozen, but energetic, not-too-serious and danceable is the general style.

3. A place: the beach and the desert and the inner city that carry within them the history of this planet, the history of many people and the power to remind me I belong.

4. A person/ group of people: the assembly gathered around Word and Sacrament... that's been sustaining me during these too many bleak years. A fun party with great food, thirst-quenching drink and intelligent conversation is a close second.

5. something you do: "Designing!" On my facebook page and other places I've quoted from an ad for papers and boards I found in an old design or trade mag, "In the beginning...a small bell chimed. Creativity! It chimes like a small clear bell at the heart of the human spirit..." and it still does!

Have a wonderful Reformation Sunday or Pentecost 20!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

energetic anatomy

Energetic Anatomy by Mark Rich on Amazon

energetic anatomy coverHaving this book come my way after I agreed to review it for the author has to be a serendipitous event! I could describe this discussion and application of the human energy system (HES) as east meets west meets east, as an integration or re-integration of traditional, indigenous, tribal and folk ways into contemporary, over-rationalized western life, a combining of natural and spiritual—it is all that and more.

I've been slow writing a review because Energetic Anatomy is full of descriptions and actual ways of helping heal your own body, emotions, spirit and psyche and at the same time helping heal your own corner of the universe and I knew I needed to read through and work through the illustrations, explanations, exercises the author provides. However, doing so will take a long time, and given that I expect to live with this book and learn from it for years to come, I'm posting this review now.

Mark Rich inscribed my copy, "Live in wealth, health and love!" and I hope to begin doing so soon. I'm not imagining a single handbook of 150 pages holds all the answers to everything, but everything I've read so far will help heal mind, body, emotions and ultimately relationships with others and with the earth.

The book is a convenient size to hold and heft, but I wish it were set in a larger type face. It includes a comprehensive index and a list of additional resources for those seeking them.

my amazon review: more than auras and chakras, more than east meets west

Saturday, October 15, 2011

blog action day 2011: food!

This year Blog Action Day happens on world food day, and I'm doing some terra firma theology for the event. In scripture, terra firma on which we and other land creatures spend most of our earthbound lives and where our food is grown by ourselves or by others also is tierra santa - holy land. For this post I easily could draw upon a lot of posts from this blog, since most of my theology is theology of creation, theology of the land, the God and the people who live physically, emotionally and conceptually attached to the gift of land.

blog action day 2011 - foodLast year for the topic of water I wrote, "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." In the Hebrew scriptures the journey into the land...into the land...into the land forms an incessant theme; the garden of the first creation ultimately becomes the city of the new creation that begins in the garden of resurrection. From the earliest Pentateuch source we read about God forming the first human from the dirt of the ground and naming him A-dam, after that dirt. Later on the New Testament shows us the new Adam, Jesus of Nazareth, who reveals the divine to us most fully and completely, and like the first Adam is born out of the stuff of the earth.

In the book of Genesis in the Old Covenant scriptures, we read about Joseph's brothers betraying him and selling him into Egypt. After he spends time in prison, Joseph becomes a community leader and sits in authority at the right hand of the Egyptian pharaoh; from that position he helps distribute life-restoring grain to a hungry people. In the gospel accounts in the New Covenant Scriptures, we read about Jesus of Nazareth, who like Joseph is sold and betrayed into the ultimate prison, the ultimate bondage of death and is resurrected to new life before ascending to sovereignty at the "right hand" of God. From there, like Joseph, through his followers he has charged to be his continued presence on earth Jesus distributes life-giving grain to a starving world.

Water was the subject of last year's Blog Action Day and this year it's food! The faith and practice tradition I follow celebrates both water and bread as central to our understanding of God's gracious actions and presence in the world.

Early in the pages of scripture, God gives plants and trees and seeds for food and commands the people to care for and steward the land and the rest of creation. Central to the formation of Israel is the divine promise of deliverance from slavery and that the people would be led to a land "flowing with milk and honey," a place with pomegranates, figs, olives, vineyards, a land they would cultivate and steward in freedom rather than in grueling slavery. Scripture gives human creatures a place within the created order and a call to steward, maintain, treasure and support the rest of creation; the commandments that relate human creatures one to another and to all creation are critical for the planet's survival. The Creator God covenants with all creation, and as creatures in God's image, so do the people of God.
Therefore keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you. Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. Deuteronomy 8:6-11
The Gospel of Jesus Christ has no national or cultural boundaries; it is "good news" of victory of life over death for all creation, yet the good news must becomes incarnate, embodied and enfleshed within particular local cultures. In the church eating events are commonplace and have achieved close to a level of caricature. Potlucks, Christmas Teas, Ice Cream Socials, Barbecues on the Bay, monthly Friday evening parties or potlucks...

Through its witness, scripture brings humanity a call to help initiate justice and redemption for all creation and an ultimate vision of the eschatological feast in which the entire earth is healthy and restored, living in mutual covenantal dependence. The Lord's Supper, Holy Communion, the Eucharist - sometimes simply referred to as "the sacrament" - is the proleptic, preliminary yet full realization of the time of redemption of all creation. It's a vernacular meal and a nutritious one! The eucharist is slow food, it's cooperatively grown and produced food, it is nourishing and it is memorable. Just as waters and rivers become holy water in baptism, in the Lord's Supper, Holy Communion, solid earth, terra firma, becomes holy land, tierra santa.

Scripture moves from the waters of the old creation to the rivers of the new; the narrative of scripture moves from the garden of the first creation to the city of the new creation. That "end time" of the no more of cycles of war, violence, famine, hatred, deceit and deprivation will be a time of the fullness of redemption for all creation, not solely human creatures. The eschatological, "final things" feast of the Eucharist is sign, symbol, realization and reality of "will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?" When the disciples asked Jesus that question, he told them to wait right there in Jerusalem (the center of the known world at the time) until the Spirit engulfed and engaged them with his power to enact redemption on earth. [Acts 1:6-8] The pre-exilic writer who's sometimes referred to as 1st Isaiah, Proto-Isaiah or Isaiah of Jerusalem brought a necessary vision for whole food and covenantal living:
In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Isaiah 2:2-4
Body of Christ, Amen!!!

twitter hash tags: #BAD11; #food

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

october synchroblog: down we go

Each month we get a chance to together on a single chosen topic. It's Synchroblog Time! Here's the Wordpress blog.

I'm yearning for the dignity of participating in life to an extent related to my abilities and I'm longing for the redemption of love...

On to this month's topic with introductory ideas from the page and site:
Independence. Success. Upward Mobility. Security. Comfort. In subtle and direct ways, many of have been sent a message by the world (and sometimes by the faith systems we have been part of) that life is about moving up–away from pain and suffering and toward comfort, stability, and put-togetherness. This kind of living is much different than the kind of life Jesus calls us to in the gospels. ... Jesus consistently modeled going down... into the low and messy places of people’s experiences–intersecting with the lepers, the lonely, the outcasts, the marginalized. He calls us to a life of humility, love, and interdependence. ... Where do you see Jesus calling you downward? What does it mean to you? How is your faith being stretched and challenged on the journey down? ... Are there paradoxes to be explored?
"Are there paradoxes to be explored?" I'm living in a huge paradox as I look back at the past too many years and try to fathom how I got to where I am (in terms of my level of accomplishment) and cannot imagine how I *ended* up so lonely, without opportunities and without the sense of hope Jesus' death and resurrection demonstrates and Christianity calls us to. I wonder if my heart ever will mend. Pain, hurt, loneliness and praying for death. What is hard? Almost everything, yet how many times have I told myself and anyone who'd listen for a moment that in spite of everything, in every area of endeavor I've accomplished far more than ever I'd imagined I would?

Most often I type my posts in TextEdit, which sometimes auto-corrects in embarrassing ways, sometimes in interesting ways. I thought I was typing are there paradoxes to be explored, but likely got at least one letter wrong and it changed to paradises to be explored! Given that the biblical paradise is here, now, and earthbound, I'm wishing and hoping that was a sign of the future, esp as I work through a blog for this year's Blog Action Day, with Food as the topic!

I did go "into the low and messy places of people's experiences" with trips to the plasma center, hanging at the day labor place (okay, only 2 or 3 days there, not only was it cold winter and I had to be there by 6 a.m. they had almost nothing for women), figuring out the food distribution schedule at all the charities and a long string of other fun, enlightening, not-fun and sometimes denigrating activities that I'm still here to remember. As part of an intentional plan, I'd start worshiping and hangin' out some at a local church where I'd read the bulletin and the newsletter to find ways new to me and proven by me that I could serve and contribute, and almost constantly got comments like,"it would be better if you didn't; we can't let you; someone else is going to do that; we're not going to do that; you don't want to..."

When simpler, less complex, people remind me, "God laughs at our plans," I can tell you some downward movement was good for me. For example, though I hadn't always had good jobs, I'd never had a crummy job. But God calls us to live out our baptism in community, and no, contrary to what assumptions a few folks have made, I haven't waltzed or jogged into one local church after another and announced my background, interests, qualifications and immediately started volunteering to do everything. I've taken it slow and easy, usually trying to connect with groups and activities that might interest me and where I know I could contribute. It's not at all that I need people to be my cheerleaders; it's that doing any of the activities I feel called to do require an invitation or at least permission. Even if I were someone who enjoyed playing the piano for recreation, fun and pleasure, with the years I've spent practicing, the teachers I've had, the repertoire I've learned and my sheer joy at performing for an audience, how can it be vain and idle to want to do so again? I'd love to teach art again... teach and preach again. Is it so impossible to allow and encourage me to design a few Sunday bulletin covers? I did more music and more design when I was on pastoral staff than I've done since!

Recently I've watched Amanda Knox come "home" to Seattle. She'd gone to Italy as an exchange student where instead of doing much school she was tried and convicted of a crime, incarcerated for four years and then exonerated on appeal. On the one hand I've been amazed at the amount of human support she's received, but on the other hand, no one can live alone, no one can survive without community to hold them up, to be a mirror (distorted or not) to help show them who they are... This is a military town and we frequently see homecomings and farewells as part of the news and in all this I get the message we're supposed to be attached to other people, to love them, to miss them, to be excited about seeing them again. Part of being human is to have people in your lives who are attached to and love you, who think of you and miss you when you're apart, who long to see you again and who are excited about reuniting with you whenever that happens. At almost every graduation, ordination and related event speeches thank those who've journeyed alongside the graduate, the ordinand or the politician, explaining the success, achievement, accomplishment isn't theirs along; it's shared and it's been possible because it's not been solo and solitary. Everyone has rough patches, many if not most of which fade into near-oblivion when things start improving. Downward mobility?

As scripture reveals, as the history of the people of God in every time and place demonstrate, and as this month's intro insists, God "..calls us to a life of humility, love, and interdependence." No one can be themselves without the mirror of a faithful, loving community that's not threatened, not threatening and that's unafraid to tell the truth. God calls us to live out our baptism in community and in the world; our lives begin and keep returning to the assembly gathered around Word and Sacrament. Interdependence. Jesus asked the guy by the Bethsaida pool, "Do you want to be healed?" And the guy replied, "There is no one to pick me up and put me in the pool after the angel stirs the waters." My situation exactly, and the lack of community literally has been dehumanizing. Another paradox that's both gift and not-gift is that most likely no one perceives me as someone whose life is in tatters and splinters. Of course, if someone was close enough to me, spent time enough with me and heard enough from me...!

To conclude I need again to quote from Robin and Linda Williams' "Don't Let me Come Home a Stranger":
When the ties no longer bind. Lord save me from this darkest fear
Don't let me come home a stranger
I couldn't stand to be a stranger

In this place so far from home, they know my name but they don't know me
They hear my voice, they see my face; but they can lay no claim on me...
"they know my name but they don't know me...

What does this feel like? What I imagine a cat or dog abandoned at the animal shelter and expecting a death sentence feels.

...I'm longing for the redemption of love... and I need to learn to tell my story. Amen? Amen!

Other October synchroblog participants:

What am I Wearing?

On Segullah, Kellie wrote about What Are You Wearing? …and that's what I'm considering.

The site name, "Segullah" – סְגֻלָּ֔ה – in the Hebrew Bible is a valued possession, a treasure.

What's my online brief "about me" ID these days? Usually something close to "life in beta—living baptized, bringing a vision of the New Creation, shattering stereotypes, scattering ideas … outsider theologian and insider designer: 'theology is my worldview; designing for the desert is what I do.'"

desert spirit's fire autumn 2011Remember "you are what you eat"? In many ways you are what you wear, at the moment you're wearing it and in the way your style often sums up a lot of your ethnic, class, economic, religious and other culture. Without much doubt your total style locates you at a time and place in history, within your own individual history and the history of your ethnic, class, economic, educational, religious (if any) and other (if any) groups. Aspirational? Sometimes!

I've described my typical style as including and conveying hints of coastal, seashore, urban, retro, funky, casual, vintage, preppy, prairie… I love blue denim and more often than not I wear cargo pants or a short denim or skirt. I love hoodie sweaters and jackets; I love long skirts and long dresses, too. The color palettes of most of the clothes in my wardrobe are desert and beach hues: brights, pastels, or natural colours, never black, almost never darks. This is Southern California (didn't I mention coastal? and whenever possible I wear sandals instead of real shoes. After an African-American tradition, I always wear a silver bangle baptismal bracelet. I am what I wear: I am baptized; I am in Christ.

When I wrote about Ted Kennedy I said a little about what it means to live baptized, to wear your baptism. In that blog I explained,
baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we are dressed in forgiven, sinless righteousness and each of the baptized wears a baptismal calling to a life of justice, a call to a journey to the cross if – "when" – necessary; to speaking and acting prophetically against the political, economic, social and cultural establishments. In the Spirit God calls and enables us to talk the talk and walk the walk. Figuring out and discerning a specific career path can be tough, scary and difficult, but we all receive the same baptismal call to lives of justice and equality, to living the Magnificat… Luke 1:51-55
life stuff buttonBut unless I'm dressed for church or a rare out-to-dinner or party event in a favorite dress or skirt, I'm usually in casual clothes that probably are typical for this beachside coastal desert. After all, I'm a designing, urban Californian. I wear a silver bangle bracelet that constantly helps me remember "I am baptized." Baptized into a gospel without national boundaries, a way of being and of living that can be and needs to be contextualized into local culture and expressed in local spoken languages and ethnic (class, educational, aspirational…) accent. In scripture, the Pauline and especially the deutero-Pauline movement is not from a solitary, isolated atomized individual into an undifferentiated Body of Christ; it's from solitary, disconnected individuality to uniqueness and particularity within the gathered Body of Christ.

What does that mean? I can wear cargos and sweater, someone else can wear dashiki or dreads, a stetson or a kilt. Whatever we wear and however we live out our baptismal call to serve wherever we find ourselves, God's call and gracious invitation to help enact justice in the world, each of us brings varying abilities – "varieties of [practical, spiritual, intellectual, creative and lots of other] gifts" – for listening, for programming, for administering, for teaching for cooking or baking; all these have a place in some places, many of them in most places. Each of these needs to be spoken – contextualized! – with a local accent.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

So this is Justin Bieber!

Belieber!: Faith, Fame, and the Heart of Justin Bieber by Cathleen Falsani

Belieber! book cover"Voice of a Generation," the title of chapter 10 suggests. Even four or five years ago, there wouldn't have been a book that included verbatim twitter feeds and hashtags. Even four or five years ago, there was no Justin Bieber phenom. After all, the popular Canadian-born performer and world-class tweeter is only 17 years old! Worthy Publishing encourages readers who like the book to join Facebook and twitter conversations and offers a model tweet; all this demonstrates a bit of the way social media has become a constant and a given in most of our lives.

Cathleen Falsani currently writes for Religion News Service and is an editor for Washington, D.C. based Sojourners. Exactly like her, I'll confess I'd never consciously and intentionally listened to any of teen idol singer Justin Bieber's songs until I read this book. I needed to know what he was about, so I popped onto YouTube and checked out several songs with listenings/viewings into the many millions, figuring those must be the best-known. All of them were energetic, fresh, and pleasant, though not particularly sophisticated. The video part clearly was directed toward people in their early- to mid-teen years. Although I loved and resonated with a whole lot of the experiences Cathleen wrote about in Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace and expect to re-read it more than once, if *they* hadn't sent me a review copy of Belieber! most likely I wouldn't have considered reading it.

Cathleen's journalistic credentials literally shine through the material she presents. She conveys basics about Justin's parents and grandparents, a little about his upbringing, his first musical and spiritual experiences in a local evangelical church community, his first home-produced YouTube vids and onto Atlanta, Georgia and Scooter Braun, his manager and now caring older-brother figure discovering him. Needless to say, then ensued the young Canadian's trek toward stardom and the concerns that arise as anyone, famous or not, moves through adolescence into adulthood. To help place non-teens into the picture frame, the author nicely parallels today's Bieberites with her own experience as a young woman infatuated with Bono and the band U2. In some detail she chronicles how her own life and work likely would have been very different had she not encountered and become smitten with U2's activist, justice-oriented style of Christianity and their dedication to worlds and to peoples beyond their own Ireland.

Every chapter of this book is about Justin Bieber's spiritual and musical lives, because this young man is well-reputed to be a committed Christian and at least some of the hype surrounding him centers around the style and substance of his commitment to Jesus Christ. Due to his hectic-nonstop ultra-celebrity schedule, Cathleen was not able to meet Justin Bieber before this book was published, but she gives reasons she's pretty much convinced the young Bieber guy is personally, morally and Christianly real, genuine and authentic, is being mentored and managed well, and is surrounded by people who truly care for and about him and his future.

Sixteen pages of full-color photos in the center of the book would help entice Beliebers (as Justin's followers often are called) to buy the book; pull-quotes from Bieber fans throughout the book also add appeal and even some credibility. End matter in Belieber! includes a list of Justin's favorite charities and a list of Cathleen Falsani's, along with "what you can do suggestions" for each one. The author also provides 20 mostly God- and spirituality-related questions for possible conversations between adults (teachers, parents, pastors) and children or youth and maybe even conversation among friends of any ages. I also appreciate the inclusion of endnotes.

Belieber! on Worthy Publishing

my Amazon review: So this is Justin Bieber!

Friday, October 07, 2011

lovely things 5

Songbird hosts today's things we do for love friday 5 and suggests we list:

1) Something you did for love that was a hit:

There probably are quite a few, but I got the impression my grandmother really appreciated the garage door opener I got her for a Christmas present. After all, opening a heavy, 2-car garage door is too much for almost anyone, and though my grandfather could be extremely generous with $$$ and other gifts, he also had a tendency toward false economies when it came to material accoutrements and household appointments.

2) Something you did for love that was more of a miss:

Back in former city, I'd offered to make birthday dinner for a former friend. It was Sunday afternoon and I knew she always made extensive rounds visiting relatives after the church she attended was over; I also knew she always always, always was very late to everything—that is everything except her early morning shift as a highly skilled, experienced, well-regarded RN at University Hospital. I assembled and cooked an amazing recipe I'd semi-invented, allowing more time even than birthday guest would have needed for when it would be simmered, marinated and ready to serve and enjoy. At this point I don't recall quite how late she got there, but it was very very late indeed. We sat down to eat, she took a forkful and announced, "this is cold!!!" At that point I asked, "Would you like to wear your dinner?" Long long, story, and codependent moi always makes too many excuses and allowances for people, but she ended up dumping me because... who cares at this point? it's really funny in retrospect!

3) Something someone did for love of you:

A friend I recently reconnected with on Facebook via LinkedIn blogged about me—what a gift! We've talked on the phone several times and she asked if I'd read her blog, explained that I was the "dear friend." What. a. gift!

4) Something you *wish* someone would do for love of you:

I so wish people would remember me when they make their guest lists the way they used to, that they'd realize although the years of social isolation have made me strange to others and a stranger to myself, that what they may or may not perceive of my abilities and levels of accomplishments do not threaten them but could be gifts to them and in their worlds and (if they're pastors or church musicians) could enhance their ministries.

5) Something you've done for love of God:

As Martin Luther would insist, although "...I cannot by my own effort or understanding but the HS calls, gather and enlightens..." somehow I've been able to trust, persevere and keep on keepin' on despite everything, because I know God is trustworthy and faithful in spite of me. And I trust it will turn out best for me and for those in my future, too. Trusting? No, knowing God's final answer and response always is resurrection!

Bonus Something I'm doing for love of me:

it's gotta be my ongoing decision and attempts (1) to tell myself my current situation is far from okay; (2) to start telling my story; and (3) to ask people for what I need. Scary, because I've been trying to do all that for a while and it hasn't borne much fruit at all.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

season of creation Year A: 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!
Holy God, Mighty Lord, Breather of Life, all creation reveals your glory and magnifies your love! When your Word created the heavens and the earth, you provided everything needful for health and happiness, and called creation into covenant with yourself. You divided night from day, waters from dry land. You planted a garden and trees; a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden. With bread from heaven and water from the rock you sustained the wanderers in the exodus desert. In the land of exile you charged your people to plant gardens and cultivate crops. You sent Jesus of Nazareth, born of Mary, to live as your presence among us.

And so with the saints and angels 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 created.

bread and cupWith the Church in every time and every place we proclaim the mystery of faith:
Dying you destroyed our death;
Rising you restored our life;
Lord Jesus, come in glory!
On 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 we eat this bread and drink this cup, we 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 in covenant with all creation 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

Friday, September 23, 2011

5 about finishing projects (etc.)

Today Sally hosts a projects, completions, endings, beginnings...5

Major congrats to Sally for finishing her master's thesis!!! She suggests we consider "as you look back over the last few years..." last few years:

1. I completed a 9-month long certificate in graphic design. School was 5 mornings a week for 9 months; my class graduated 13 October 2006. No special celebration, but the school had a party for us, everyone brought food and we loved receiving the last of 3 incremental certificates and a completion diploma. A big, big "thank you" to the state of California and a sigh of sorrow that the quality and quantity of public education is going way downhill too too fast.

2. In terms of actual projects, I'd love to have the $$$ to renovate my kitchen. A while back I painted the existing cabinets a nice warm yellow that looks just fine for now, but realistically, what am I waiting to begin? I need to give myself quite a few high-5's for the many pieces of furniture I've painted/re-painted and the 2 pieces I refinished during the last 6 months, but painting the kitchen/dining area is something that would be a noticeable improvement and even financially feasible. That paint's been on the walls for 10+ years.

3. I haven't kept putting off any particular project, but the ongoing weeding out, donating, recycling and free-cycling books and other "stuff" remains slow and labourious. However, over the past year (recent!) I've donated 9 big 13-gallon bags of clothes to the local thrift store and even parted with a a couple dozen books.

4. I can imagine so many dream project/jobs, but for something simple and feasible I'd love to be artist in residence for an inner city congregation. The monetary pay probably would be only a token stipend and maybe attendance at a workshop or conference or two, but I imagined designing posters, banners, bulletin covers (for Advent, Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, anniversaries...), teaching neighborhood youth and adults and related. A good fit? A great one, and I did that to a minor extent when I served on pastoral staff in city of history, though it wasn't part of my job description and I'd love to do lots more.

Ideal? I also want to, need to help plan worship, I want and need to preach and teach some, write prayers and liturgies that will be used but it seems to be the art/design aspect is more feasible since no one is likely to think I'm invaded *their* delineated territory and in most cases it would enhance their existing ministry, mission and outreach.

5. "Be creative, you are going to publish a book/ song/poem, what is its title?" during mid-2004, all of 11 years ago, my book title was Justice, Freedom and Redemption: Divine Image and Creation's Glory and I'd still go with some related to ecology and the environment with my own cover design, maybe a few of my own illustrations.

Most typically I blog in a variety of growing, thriving ordinary time green or a readable, hopeful dark blue, but today I'm going for red, the liturgical colour for feasts of the Spirit such as Pentecost and Reformation (as well as the colour of martyrs, those saints whose deaths bore witness, martyria and testimony to the presence of the Spirit in their lives.

Thanks and congrats again, Sally!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

collect for Creation 4A, river sunday

season of creation 4, River Sunday

God of all creation, at the dawn of time rivers flowed over mountains and through valleys; we ask that in the Spirit of life we may live faithfully to our baptism with water and the word, that the rivers of the new creation would flow freely and provide healing to all the nations. In the name of Jesus the Christ, Amen!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

collect for Creation 3A, outback/wilderness sunday

season of creation 3, outback/wilderness

God of the covenanted faith-filled journey homeward, in the exodus desert you formed a people after your own heart as you led them toward the land of promise. We ask that you would lead us to trust you in our moment by moment wanderings, that we might freely serve as your gracious presence in the world. In Jesus' name, Amen!

Friday, September 16, 2011

seeking friday 5 title doesn't mean I'm looking for a Friday 5; it means this is a 5 about what I'm looking for. Today Jan hosts a seeking Friday 5, and explains her inspiration:
I was struck in our weekly Lectio Divina group by a few verses from Psalm 105:3-4:
...let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually.
Seeking is rejoicing. Rejoicing comes from the seeking, NOT the end of glory, heaven, enlightenment, or whatever. Seeking is the journey—RIGHT NOW!
So for this Friday Five, list what you are seeking, whether it is trivial, profound, or ordinary—whatever you would like to share! List 5 and add a bonus if you feel like it!
1. I am seeking the basic human need of community.

2. I am seeking the dignity of again contributing to church and world to a degree somewhat related to my abilities.

3. I am seeking no longer to be constantly in scratch for life mode. Oh, I so realize everyone gets that way now and then, but it has been too too long. It will be wonderful, a relief, a gift, when the time arrives that I routinely experience more than 1 good hour each week.

4. I am seeking to perform some (lots, actually!) on the piano in public and thinking about connecting with retirement homes and even posting a notice on Craig's list.

5. God's Presence is a given that we don't need to seek, but at times we sure to need to remember and rejoice.

bonus. How can I help some of this happen? Communicating better, actually talking about myself... intentionally attending events where I can meet new people and at the same time 1) being sensitive not to overwhelm people with my background, etc. and 2) realizing people will have no clue if I don't tell them a few things. Also, without trying to be "in control," admitting a huge amount of my difficulties connecting with people and opps has been the nature of the institutional church.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sept synchroblog: devils, demons, et al.

I'm posting a couple days late but loved having a writing prompt...and sprung for it!
This blog post is part of a monthly synchroblog event when multiple bloggers reflect on a single topic. Here's the synchroblog home blog, and the skinny on the blog post setup:
what are some weird, wacky or just plain different things you’ve heard taught about Satan as you’ve been a member of this tribe called Christian? ... This month is wide open for being fun or being serious...because this subject could run in many different directions depending on the tradition you come from.
What, me, serious? Devil, satan, fallen angel, demon? That could take forever scripturally to tease out and define, whether we're talking about the serpentine tempter as the "other than me" (in the Garden of Eden, for example, getting blamed for human frailty), satan as the prosecuting attorney (in Job, for example), or the demonic as the opposite of the divine, so I'll write some from my own perspective and experience.

In the protestant mainline we don't often obsess or talk much about The Devil, although in his Small Catechism explanation of baptism Martin Luther tells us baptism " forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil." In the ELCA's most recent worship resource, Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW), baptismal candidates are asked, "Do you renounce the devil and all the forces that defy God?" The order for Affirmation of Baptism (historically called confirmation) asks candidates the exact same question. Luther himself sort of had a thing about demons and the devil. In fact, Luther left so much devil-related material that a local guy wrote his DMin thesis on "Luther and Demons" and presented an extract of the content at a presbytery meeting.

"Demons and the demonic" is a common theological catch phrase—what examples of those are in the average person's life? Addictions of all kinds, overeating, self-injury, possibly clinical depression, suicidal ideation. Sometimes we refer to an impulse being ego-syntonic or ego-dystonic, with syntonic feeling as if our mind and bodies have at least a modicum of control, a little agency over the behavior because it feels as if it originates within ourselves. The dystonic feels as if the impulse enters our beings unbidden from outside ourselves, anything but a product of our own mind, body, spirit, will and emotions.

Saul/Paul of Tarsus obsesses and distresses over the countless times (just like all of us) he finds himself unwittingly behaving in ways he never intended, many of those times feeling as if something or someone external to his intent (ego-dystonic) is performing in him or somehow forcing him to do what he doesn't intend. He describes it as not him, but sin dwelling, literally living within him. I didn't include a dictionary definition of demon, demonic or devil, but one catechism defines sin as any transgression of or lack of conformity unto the law of God.

Demons and the demonic – temptations and prosecutions – his temptations by the devil in the wilderness is the first recorded event after Jesus' baptism by John; he refuted each of the tempter's claims with scripture.

This is the 9th hour and the stone has been rolled away: this is the time of salvation. This is Pentecost, the reign of the Spirit of Life. Jesus was baptized into John's baptism, but we're baptized into Jesus' death and resurrection: death (sin and the devil) has no more dominion.

other september participants:

• Jeremy Myers at Till He Comes: The Devil Made Me Go To Church

• K.W. Leslie at More Christ: Devilish Misinformation

• Marta Layton at Fidesquarens: The Christian Jihad

• Sonnie Swenston-Forbes at A Piece Of My Mind: The Devil Made Me Do It

• Bill Sahlman at Creative Reflections: The [one who will go unnamed] Made Me Do It

• Kathy Escobar at kathy escobar: the stranger (who’s a little too familiar) & the shepherd

• Liz Dyer at Grace Rules: Have You Inhaled Demon Spirits?

Friday, September 09, 2011

space style 5

revkjarla hosts today's work space 5 on the RevGals site and asks, "Describe five things in/on your workspace that are special to you!"

Special to me? I'll just list what's there according to 5 general types, but given that it's all essential equipment, you might call all of it "special."

first, by the puter:

(1) short stack of client design project specs to my left;

(2) handful of pens and pencils to the right of the stack.

then, on the living room table:

(3) bible, a couple of magazines and a couple of books I might read some day;

(4) a sketchbook and a notebook with wide lined paper;

(5) pens, pencils, markers, rulers, french curves, erasers.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

collect for Creation 2A, land sunday

season of creation 2, land

Holy God, you chose to live among us in a body formed from the soil of the earth and you promised to lead your people into an inalienable land you would show them; in your Spirit may we live faithfully to your call to steward the land, that it would become safe living space and produce life-sustaining food for all creation. In the name of Jesus the Christ, your son and our brother, Amen!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

collect for Creation 1A, forest sunday

season of creation 1, forest

God of all creation, God of all seasons, you made rivers and streams and planted a garden; trees grew out of the ground and the earth breathed. May we receive and retain your life-giving Spirit that we would faithfully care for the rivers, the gardens and the forests, so that everything in creation would continue to breathe in wholeness and health, to the glory of your name, amen!

Friday, August 26, 2011

rainy day 5

For today's Friday 5, Sally has outlined some ideas for a rainy day 5, and I'm lovin' the baptismal imagery along with the way it evokes some wonderful memories that bring along with them hope for future rainy days, hope for a world that has learned to steward water well and the anticipatory hint of my own life bringing me the essentials I need to be healthy and well again.

On a historical/contemporary note, as I'm typing this in southern California and the mid-morning sun it starting to shine through a few clouds, the almost unprecedented power of hurricane Irene is slamming the eastern coast and parts inland from Canada through the Caribbean Islands, so many of us are praying hard.

Sally asks about our activities on a rainy summers day:

1. Concerning a rainy day at home, if I don't need to leave the house for work or church or another commitment, I still cannot tolerate staying at home, but if it's raining so hard that venturing outside into the weather would be dangerous and unpleasant, I'll try to find ingredients for an extra-tasty meal and if it's not too hot and humid, probably bake something, too.

2. When it's a rainy day in my local area, again assuming not having workplace work and/or its not being a Sunday worship day, how about checking out sales at the big mall or strip mall and having lunch at a less-expensive sit-down restaurant? I'm about 5 miles from the beach, and if it's light rain or heavy mist, a slow walk on the side alongside the ocean is a great idea—also followed by lunch out, of course!

3. When it rains and I'm away on holiday that probably would lead to a museum or museums, lunch, a little shopping or window shopping , and in some places, thrift stores!

4. I can't think of a specific rainy day read, but rain and mist outside my habitat sometimes creates a great environment for sorting and sifting through my books, deciding what to read again, discovering books and chapters that remain unread and planning for the future. Unlike a lot of people, I'm not a compulsive reader and often I'm not in process and progress of reading anything.

5. I don't know that there's a particular piece of music/ a poem/ story that cheers me up, but just as a rainy, quiet time sometimes leads to a little book sorting and even house cleaning, it's also a great time to pull out a few CDs I haven't listened to in a while. That answer was kind of fuzzy, but it matches the landscape's appearance and impression when it rains.