Friday, March 30, 2012

holy week faves 5

Today on Rev Gal Blog Pals MaryBeth hosts a Holy Week Favorites Friday 5; here's the concept:
I invite you to share five favorite Holy Week things, five things that are truly worshipful for you. It may be that it's the way they are done in your congregation (or were done in a previous one). It may be your personal preparation for certain services or observances. Breathe. Be still. Look to the week ahead, and Holy Weeks past, and imagine the worship. Bonus: a piece of music that "is" Holy Week for you.
Easter Vigil 2012In semi-random order:
1. I'll be doing *my* best to do the Triduum with grace… I still have wonderful memories of chanting the Exultet at the Easter Vigil and of kindling the new fire. Did I say Easter Vigil? That's the highlight of the year, with the weekly blessing of the baptismal water during the Great Fifty Days a close second. Since I'm not currently serving a church in any capacity and in many ways I've been free floating without a true parish, a geographical space and place, I'll be at Church up the Hill from Here for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, at Multicultural Church not Far from Here for Easter Vigil. Easter Sunday morning I'll be guest organist for a town and gown LC-MS congregation—they have a regular organist who's not on staff because he didn't want to have to be there Christmas and Easter, so I get to play.

2. I love praying and meditating on the stations of the cross, something I'd done only a couple times prior to returning to Current City, where it's been almost a given at a couple of the ELCAs and at the PCUSA where I was active.

3. Another wonderful memory: during the 3 years SM was long-term called interim (at the PCUSA where I was quite involved), he and I planned and led daily noon Eucharist during Holy Week. Hearing and feeling those familiar texts and experiencing liturgy five days in a row was amazing and memorable. And, of course, we also did the usual Maundy Thursday and Good Friday evenings.

4. I've always loved Maundy Thursday, the lively demonstration of the New Covenant we'd most recently heard about on Judica, Lent 5. Also, as associate pastor, I generally got to preach on Maundy Thursday…

5. I always appreciate the quiet, emotionally low feeling of Saturday morning through evening. Trying to be silent, do a little literal housework and housekeeping, anticipating Saturday evening's Vigil of Easter.

bonus. The final stanza of Lutheran Book of Worship 325 is the closing chorale from J.S. Bach's St John Passion, BWV 245. Catherine Winkworth's translation on cyberhymnal.

Interlinear Deutsche / English:

Ach Herr, lass dein lieb Engelein // Ah Lord, let your dear angels
Am letzten End die Seele mein // at my final hour carry my soul
In Abrahams Schoß tragen, // to Abraham’s bosom,
Den Leib in seim Schlafkämmerlein // while my body in its narrow chamber
Gar sanft ohn eigne Qual und Pein // gently without pain or torment
Ruhn bis am jüngsten Tage! // rests until the last day.
Alsdenn vom Tod erwecke mich, // Wake me then from death,
Dass meine Augen sehen dich // so that my eyes see you
In aller Freud, o Gottes Sohn, //in all joy, o God’s son,
Mein Heiland und Genadenthron! // my saviour and throne of mercy
Herr Jesu Christ, erhöre mich, //Lord Jesus Christ, hear me,
Ich will dich preisen ewiglich! // I shall praise you eternally!

Friday, March 23, 2012

poetry party 56: detours

invitation to poetry icon

In Praise of Detours, Abbey of the Arts poetry party 56. Christine invites us "to write a poem in praise of detours…one you have taken, or one you long to take."

This time I'm using my own photo; it's the labyrinth at the church up the hill from where I live. Jacob, who's now a university sophomore, designed and made it for his Eagle Scout project! updated in August 2015: Jacob graduated from University a year ago, and has been working since then.


detours and diversions (I long to take)

I knew I was keepin' on in the same direction
but straight as I tried to tread
the path veered, circled, backtracked and turned
to where I needed to be
I've heard in a dream
how the road that led you away
will turn and lead you home
home is what I need
I pray this time I'll get there

vital connection(s) 5

Sally hosts today's vital connection 5; she tells us, "Somewhere deep inside I hear the Spirit whispering to my soul: Live in me, make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself, but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined to me..." (John 15: 4)

So I want to ask you:

dance floor1. For making a vital daily connection with God that roots me and gives life, I've no current solution, though I can list dozens of what used to be and what's supposed to be.

2. A favourite space/ place? The beach, for a walk on the sand alongside the breaking waves; the central business district for lunch, journaling, note-taking and sketching...

3. A particular passage, phrase or prayer that brings you immediately into God's presence would be the song "Shout to the Lord"—
Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing. Power and majesty, praise to the King; Mountains bow down and the seas will roar at the sound of your name.
I sing for joy at the work of your hands; forever I'll love you, forever I'll stand. Nothing compares to the promise I have in you.
4. In general, music helps lots when I have the emotional and psychological energy to remember. Rarely is any kind of music distracting, though I do not care for poetry or opera.

5. Regarding silence and solitude, everyone know about the sometimes vast disconnect between theory and reality. Theoretically I love being alone, spending time solo, but almost never can do it so I'll go for engagement with like minded others or maybe people who are very different. I'm working hard at talking about myself, telling my story, and trying to get others to share a bit of their history with me, too.

Bonus, a poem, piece of inspirational prose or music that speaks to you of that vital connection...

I've quoted this before and likely will many times in the future. Derek Walcott was the 1992 Nobel Laureate in Literature; his Nobel citation said, "for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment."
Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes;
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
PS Sally provided the lovely "dance floor" image.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

World Water Day 2012

world water day 2012 banner

World Water Day 2012—"International World Water Day happens annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources"—since 1993 and counting! The landing page lists topics for each of the past World Water Days; this year's emphasis is "Water and Food Security."

I'll highlight just a couple of their FAQs about water:

• All the food from crop and livestock production, inland fisheries or aquaculture, forest products, requires water. This water comes from rain and moisture stored in soils (green water) or from withdrawals in watercourses, wetlands, lakes and aquifers (blue water).

• 70% of the blue water withdrawals at global level go to irrigation. Irrigated agriculture represents 20% of the total cultivated land but contributes 40% of the total food produced worldwide.

world water day bannerWater is life! Digging wells for safe water and teaching reading for literacy are hands-down the best ways missionaries, peace corps and other deployed aid workers can change communities and individual's lives.

Common theological words and concepts such as water, bread, Lord, and land are what late anthropologist Clifford Geertz called thick: they're about basic essentials; pack a clout; don't need to be modified by fancy descriptive adjectives; most are Anglo-Saxon in origin. Over desert spirit's fire's almost ten years, I've written a lot about water.

The bible that holds Christianity's collected sacred texts begins with waters of the first creation and concludes with rivers of the new creation. Water is the womb of this planet's creation and the womb of our first birth as humans. In baptism water is the womb of our first death and of our re-birth – our re-creation – as we identify with earth's history. I'll quote one of my posts from a recent contest:
My particular Reformation tradition emphasizes the ongoing Divine presence and God's continued self-giving in the sacraments. But baptism and holy communion are far more than something we do in a ritualized way when we gather—they are lively signs to the world of our seeking and working for justice for all peoples and all the earth everywhere. Sacraments also signify the sacredness of all life as they form a microcosm of the promised time of the fullness of redemption for all creation. Real food is not manufactured in laboratory-like factories; real food comes from the earth and for celebrating sacramental ordinances we use flowing water, juice or wine from the fruit of the grapevine and (ideally recently homemade) bread baked from natural ingredients, so we need to be friends of the earth to continue celebrating sacraments.
BTW, that post was the first weekly contest winner!

Today for my Facebook page and profile status updates, I said I was going to blog about World Water Day and try to be a better friend of the oceans and rivers, a better friend of the earth. To help that happen, I'm going to follow some of the suggestions listed in the FAQs.

world water day 2012 banner

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

gracious hospitality

Leviticus 19:34

"You shall not oppress a resident alien [sojourner, stranger]; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens [strangers, sojourners] in the land of Egypt." Exodus 23:9

Back in A Former City, I'd tried to get involved in at least one local church where I mistakenly assumed someone with my background and experience would be excitedly welcomed and highly valued. Of course I've long had more than a clue about human behaviors, maybe especially in settings like churches and other organizations where a lot of the daily nitty-gritty gets done by volunteers, many of whom are willing but some of whose skills and abilities would be no more than marginally employable most places. Attendees at church in question basically were mostly Caucasian, sort of youngish through middling-aged through very old with a few young kids; they were more or less middle class and it belonged to a prominent denomination of the "liberal protestant mainline."

Amidst a long series of disappointing rejections and exclusions I still could document if I wanted to bother, a congregation of another well-known liberal protestant mainline denomination happened into my life and world. They needed a pianist to lead worship on the Sundays of the month their choir would sing, so why not me? But almost all these people were immigrants from the Pacific Island archipelago nation of Tonga! This was a self-consciously "ethnic church," in ways not dissimilar to some earlier Lutheran, Reformed, and Roman Catholic parishes in this country, many of which in this year 2012 still retain traces, even dreams of their founding identities in favorite potluck dishes, hymns, and *other* cultural markers.

The denomination the Tongan church belonged to even had a special judicatory representative to help with concerns of Tongan congregations in the vicinity. Their worship in the Tongan language included standard choral anthems the choir director translated into Tongan; after worship we all enjoyed a huge meal of ethnic specialties and then returned to the chapel for a testimony meeting. Some denominations practice "fast and testimony," believing a few hours without food enhances spiritual awareness and draws a person into considering the presence and action of the Holy One in their lives, but isn't "food and testimony" more enticing? "We have the gift of music and the gift of food," a choir member informed me. They also had the gift of hospitality, inviting me, very much a "resident alien" within their culture to weddings, to parties, to holiday picnics, and barbecues.

A few years ago in my formal faith journey I explained, "Both my experiences of inclusion in the community and those of exclusion from the community – especially the community of faith, but also in many places and spaces in the world outside of and beyond the gathered People of God – have been significant to my growth in faith." The way the people and pastor of the Tongan Church received me as a gift seemed so very natural, literally "within their nature," I believe Tongans are born with an active welcoming gene. For sure I had something they needed and had asked for, but I also had even more gifts and experiences that could have become powerful components of the ministry in the church I mentioned at the start of this post. I was a gift to the Tongan Church but they were gifts to me far beyond what I had to offer them.

"You shall not oppress a resident alien [sojourner, stranger]; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens [strangers, sojourners] in the land of Egypt." Exodus 23:9

Akin to studying cultural anthropology in the classroom and particularly to doing field work, the Tongan people's lives as non-native resident aliens in a high desert community of the intermountain west that was culturally, geographically, socially, and gastronomically worlds away from the Pacific islands probably heightened their awareness of the need and desires of others to be welcomed and included. Their own differentness probably had caused a few experiences of exclusion, too.

One of my favorites quotes is from C.S. Lewis' Dawn Treader: ...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...

At the Tongan church I found an unforgettable place of welcome and a memorable time of belonging, signs of "Aslan's Country," of the Reign of Heaven on earth.

Thanks to Trisha for originally hosting this post on her [now sadly not there, as she unpublished or deleted a lot of online content] Your Moments of Grace blog.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March Synchroblog: all about Eve

All About Eve, March synchroblog.
March is Women's History Month; 08 March was International Women's Day. "Anything concerning women in general, women and the church, balancing women's rights with religious freedoms, the differences between men and women … these are all good topics for blog posts."
I'm happy to be participating after a couple months off and I'll go with the "all about Eve" suggestion. This is a lightly updated version of an old piece I haven't previously published on this blog. I did it for peeps who weren't necessarily highly biblically or theologically literate, and I think for the most part they got what I was saying.

Where Can We Go from There?

Parts of scripture contain pericopes - literally "stories," some of which have achieved an iconic, sacred status and truly contain a Word of Life to us and for us. In some times and some places, some narratives in the Holy Scriptures to which we often defer as a norm for everyday existence have been used to legitimate a way of life that makes women second-class, inferior beings—or if not quite second-class and inferior, definitely not first-class and superior or anything approaching equality or parity with the male creature. Also, we need to realize "legitimate" doesn't mean it's just okay for things to be that way; "legitimate" means things should be, are supposed to be that way!

Genesis 2:15 - 3:20

Let's begin with a quick look at a well-known story from Genesis 2 – "Then the Lord God took some soil from the ground and formed a man out of it; then God breathed the breath of life into his nostrils and the man began to live."

To continue: after God had planted all kinds of fruits and veggies, filled the air with birds and the land with animals – in the process appointing the guy human as steward or caretaker of creation – after this, the stage was set "just right" for the human woman to appear on the scene...and for that woman-enterprise the bible relates how God formed a woman out of the rib of the man and because of her substantial connection to him, the man named her wo-man.

After the Genesis 2 passage comes the start of chapter 3: the human couple are biding their time in the garden of earthly delights when one of the creatures entices the woman to eat the lusciously tempting forbidden fruit – which she does – and then she shares it with the man. With a stroke of the intimacy between Creator and creature we often find in the Yahwist Hebrew Bible source, God comes into the garden, challenges the humans, chastises them for not exactly following the role-models outlined for them…and then expels them from the garden, which is similar to being kicked out of school since it means then they’d encounter "real life," or the oppressive and sometimes painful struggles of day-to-day nitty-gritty.
Triple aside:

• last Sunday for Lent 4 year B, we heard in Numbers 21:4-9 "...Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live."

• And the gospel was John 3:14-21, "And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."

• Harvey Cox wrote a book called, On not leaving it to the snake.
Looking a little more closely at these events, much of what is recorded about Eve, whose name means "life," is positive and encouraging. A-dam - named for the color of the earth from which he came - is incomplete without Eve/Ava; she definitely is the chronological crown of creation, as she is the last living thing in creation's entire order. And she seems to have a Queen Complex, or at very least a Princess Complex, in her supremely confident interaction with the snake-in-the-dust and with her own Creator.

"Supremely confident interaction?!" That interaction takes the form of sounds...speech...words! Verbal communication is a major indicator of humanity and it may be the way we're different from the rest of creation. The power of words is a primary aspect of humanity's co-creativeness with the God who creates by the Word—particularly in the creation of new and renewed community; here Eve shares creative speech with God!

But some of what we observe is neither positive or encouraging: Eve clearly is derivative from A-dam—made out of the physical substance of his body, the man also names her and with wo-man, referring back to himself; although man is incomplete without woman, this woman has no existence whatsoever without that man.

Theologian Phyllis Trible describes the woman as "the more intelligent, inquisitive and aggressive of the two..." Maybe so, but the Creator God challenges Eve about the forbidden fruit only after questioning Adam. Although this corresponds to the creation order, it also implicitly puts the man in a position of social primacy, if not a situation of moral primacy.

However, Eve's creation out of Adam's rib establishes human interdependence and therefore rudimentary human community, which simultaneous creation could not institute. In other words, in order to affirm the social, interpersonal nature of the covenant, either man or woman had to be derived from the other, and that the woman rather than the guy is derivative possibly is not quite as unsettling as it sounds...

However again, since these texts originated within Israel, a patriarchal society, most likely the Yahwist – the name scholars have given to the scribe or scribes who wrote down Genesis 2 and 3 – was a guy, and information described and conveyed by anyone inevitably carries with it a gender-bias reflecting the social patterns and thought patterns that go along with being that gender in that particular culture. In that place and time the male viewpoint not only was dominant but also the legitimate view, since that's what got passed on, written down and preserved. We've even got it now!

There is a high possibility of there being "women's versions" of these stories, particularly since the male Yahwist didn't shortchange the woman to any great extent. If we defer to Scripture as a norm for our everyday existence, and if the man comes out a little ahead of the woman in these stories, that's just where it all needs to stay, right? Wrong!

Most churches run with the closed canon of Hebrew Bible and New Covenant scriptures, but in no way is Genesis 2 and 3 a final word as to what gender participation and roles "should be!" But in a profound sense these texts are "last words," in that they're about people who have moved far away from near-total domination and insubordination of woman by man, surprisingly close to a way of life that accords full humanity to the woman and to women. Narrative accounts in books like Genesis 1 and 2 as well as exhortations from the apostle Paul and the deutero-Pauline epistles provide models – and legitimation – for us to move even further, and there's that Jesus of Nazareth dude mightily to consider, but you already knew that!

Postscript: Just as Genesis 2 and Genesis 3 do not represent the actual beginning of God's involvement in creation, but reflect a specific stage along the way, so we as God’s people today can concede that new and re-newed social and cultural forms may be developing now as I write and as you read this blog and may be gaining legitimation as they are perceived as a result of the intervention of the God of Life and Justice and therefore...

The word of life—Amen!

other participants:

• Michelle Morr Krabill – Why I Love Being a Woman
• Marta Layton – The War on Terror and the War on Women
• Ellen Haroutounian – March Synchroblog – All About Eve
• Jeremy Myers – Women Must Lead the Church
• Carol Kuniholm – Rethinking Hupotasso
• Wendy McCaig – Fear Letting Junia Fly
• Tammy Carter – Pat Summit: Changing the Game & Changing the World
• Jeanette Altes – On Being Female
• kathy escobar – replacing the f-word with the d-word (no not those ones)
• Melody Hanson – Call Me Crazy, But I Talk To Jesus Too
• Glenn Hager – Walked Into A Bar
• Steve Hayes – St. Christina of Persi
• Leah Sophia – March Syncroblog-All About Eve
• Liz Dyer – The Problem Is Not That I See Sexism Everywhere…
• Sonja Andrews – International Women’s Day
• Sonnie Swenston-Forbes – The Women
• Christine Sine – It All Begins With Love
• K.W. Leslie – Undoing the Subordination of Women
• Carie Good – The Math of Mr. Cardinal
• Dan Brennan – Ten Women I Want To Honor

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lent 4 / Laetare

God of the Covenants, you gather us from south and north, from west and east – from all corners of creation – and in your son Jesus you embrace us with merciful lovingkindness. May our lives show your steadfast love to all we encounter; may our actions announce your gracious redemption with joy, that all creation would dwell in justice, freedom, and light. In the name of the crucified and risen one, Amen!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lent B 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.
• We rejoice to bring our thanks and praise!

Holy God, Mighty Lord, Boundless Spirit,
Giver of the Law, and Fountain of Grace!
In the wilderness desert you formed a people after your own heart.
Prophets spoke your words of judgment and hope
kings and rulers worshiped before your throne.
In Jesus, born of Mary, you showed us your face;
in righteous obedience he was baptized.
Jesus spoke truth to power, dined with sinners and outcasts, and called us friends.
During the week we now call holy, Jesus was tried and convicted, bore his own cross,
disarmed the powers and principalities,
took the sin and brokenness of the world upon himself,
was executed between thieves, and fulfilled all the law.
Jesus rose from the grave for the life of the world
and ascended to reign in grace.

You baptized us into the righteousness of Jesus Christ
and you baptized us in Spirit and Fire, reclaiming a people after your own heart.
You call us to righteous obedience
to speak truth to power
to resist the principalities and powers
to be the voice of the silent
to silence the voices of greed and oppression
to befriend the lonely and forgotten
to be the living presence of Jesus Christ.

bread and cupWith all the company of heaven and earth we proclaim:
Holy Holy Holy, God of power and might
Heaven and Earth are full of your glory
Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest!
Blessed is the One who comes in the name of Heaven
Hosanna in the Highest!
And with all the company of earth and heaven we confess 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, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body, broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me."
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.
Send your Spirit of Life upon these gifts of grain and grape, that they would be for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Pour out your Spirit of Life upon this assembly, that we would be the incarnate presence of Jesus Christ in the world.

Endless thanksgiving, glory and dominion
Be to God, Father, Son and Spirit

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Awaken Your Senses: Smell

March 5th began week five, the last week of the "Awaken Your Senses" Contest on Facebook, on your own blog, as a comment on Brent's or Beth's blog or on your twitter. Beth and Brent explain:
The sense of the week is SMELL! BTW—did you know that your most vivid memories are likely linked to strong smells? Here's why:

awakenOften, the strongest memories of our past are indelibly imprinted into our memory bank through our senses, especially the sense of smell. ...odors are interpreted as "sweet smelling gardenias" or "foul smelling sneakers." The reason we know the difference is the strong connection between our sense of smell and our memory. (Awaken Your Senses, Pg. 157, 158)
smelling memories

Brent and Beth said there's a "memory bank" we can make deposits into, store the deposits for a while and withdraw them - money in the bank - for various uses when necessary. That's what I'm trying to do by appreciating, remembering and anticipating more smells!

I feel my bare feet sinking into cool wet sand and a surprise of seaspray in my face. I hear mixed modulations of shoulder high waves breaking rhythmically onto the shore. My eyes scan the wide pacific panorama of clear sky, gray-teal-green-blue water and golden sand. Salty, pungent, a little sweet and almost surprisingly fresh, today's ocean smells like yesterday and like tomorrow. ocean pic, smell"Smells like" a summer in Nahant, parking on Atlantic Avenue, stepping out of the house onto the Truro beach, driving up the north shore or up the central coast, basking in late afternoon city sunshine on Malibu East and many many more. Too many more to list or even to recall. In fact, on this warm March afternoon I can taste those memories because today's smells bring back past tastes and especially because the smells become the tastes. This is where I am today but this is where the ocean has been for eons, and should I not trust it to be there for my tomorrows and help me create new todays that will turn into memorable yesterdays that in turn will remind me there are more days on their way?

Friday, March 09, 2012

women's retreat 5

revkjarla hosts today's women's retreat Friday 5 and tells us why:
This Friday-Saturday is our annual Women's Retreat at my church. It's one of my favorite 24 hours of the year, because we enjoy each other, we laugh, we cry, we support each other...and all of that good stuff! So, since I am in the WR mode, let's talk about women in your life!
1. For a woman author I love to read, why not Renita Weems?

2. Miriam is one of many women from the bible I'd like to hang with for a while.

3. For going to lunch with a woman from history I'll invite Katie Luther; she can provide a few pints of home brew.

4. Dinner with a living famous or infamous woman? Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel.

5. As revjkarla realizes, I already am SuperWoman, but I'd be happy to claim three more special powers of bilocution, understanding what's unspoken, and healing everyone's shattered pasts.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Lent 2 / Reminiscere

God of the Covenants, your word calls forth life from death, and you call us to take up the cross and follow Jesus. We ask that in the Spirit we will resist deadly powers of violence, greed, and exploitation, that as we bear the name of Jesus Christ, our acts of love and words of care will trace the pattern of the cross. In the name of the One Crucified and Risen for the life of the world.