Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November 2016 Highlights

Nov 2016 events

3 word wednesday button

Emily P Freeman fall 2016

• For my November review, I'm joining Kristin Hill Taylor's Things from November Three Word Wednesday, and Emily P. Freeman's Things We Learned this Fall. Yay!

Day of the Dead at GrandPark Day of the Dead at Grand Park

• Día de los muertes, in Grand Park DTLA, closely followed by

• All Saints Sunday at LCM—I didn't take pictures. It was a wholly Holy Day.

LCM citrus LCM Citrus

• It's about time I shared photos of the citrus tree in the church yard. Almost ripe fruit makes it especially delightful.

LCM Milkweed 11022 Santa Monica Blvd LCM Milkweed

• I always enjoy passing 11022 Santa Monica Blvd on my way to church for SS and worship, and to observe the milkweed interim pastor planted a few months ago. I've pictured milkweed planter boxes every week, and need to compile a photographic timeline.

• In a super exciting 10-inning game, Chicago Cubs finally won the MLB World Series against Cleveland Indians 4-3 on Wednesday 02 November 2016. If that had been the Boston Red Sox I'd have had a heart attack as the game progressed, but I know how Shytown fans felt, since I had the same anxiety and elation in 2004 when Boston won the World Series.

Pumpkins and scarecrow in Glendale

• Kids at the school the judicatory offices and 1st ELCA Glendale share the campus with made these pumpkins I more than noticed when I was there for the Green Faith Team meeting. Cute scarecrow! I check out the windows every time I'm at synod offices.

National Sandwich Day

• Annual National Sandwich Day USA happened on Thursday 03 Nov; I got a 6-inch SOTD at Subway, and a second 6-inch of my choice to celebrate and donate to the company's program and cause to feed hungry humans.

• Tuesday, 08 November was election day USA and included voting for the next POTUS. Exciting to get to vote for a women for head of state / head of government, and Hillary won the popular vote, but due to the USA still having the Electoral College, it still looks as if the other candidate will be sworn into office come January.

Additional not pictured new to me experiences included:

Hotdogs from a vendor at the edge of Grand Park. I typically avoid hotdog carts because they never have mayonnaise, but this one did, so I got my bacon-wrapped wiener with grilled onions, cilantro, and mayonnaise.

Pollo Campero, new to me fast food, focused more on cuisine from Guatemala and El Salvador with a Peruvian accent than on Comidas Mexicanas. The site explains, "We don't just serve sodas and tea, we serve Horchata, Jamaica and Tamarindo," which is close to a given around here, but their pride tells the story of their success!

• Not sure if it truly was a never before, but we have after worship brunch at church every week, and a couple weeks ago a newly baptized guy prepared an irresistible meal of Lebanese food. I said to him, "This is Mediterranean! I've had this kind of food many times!" He replied, "Of course." So I had to check out a map to find Lebanon.

• I almost cannot believe I finished leading our adult SS class in Luke's whole, entire, Revised Common Lectionary Year C on Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday.

• On Reign of Christ / Christ the King, interim pastor bestowed on me a life scripture verse from the second reading for that day. Although I've chosen several verses on my own, I never started or finished a formal confirmation study course, when sometimes the pastor – sometimes the confirmand – chooses a verse to ponder all their lives long, so I was excited when Pastor Peg offered bible verses to anyone who asked:
Colossians 1:11

• May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.
Two more illustrations and a wrap(up):

Thanksgiving Day Dinner

• Another Thanksgiving Day feast at church; very thankful that for the second year in a row I could invite people to dinner. Maria created all the gorgeous flower arrangements!

Advent gift and note

• On the first Sunday of Advent the church began a new year of grace (we are the church!) and started emphasizing readings from the gospel according to St, Matthew, aka RCL year A. Interim pastor presented me with a nativity-related gift and a thank you note:
• "Advent 2016

Dear Leah,

You have led us through Luke, the gospel that gives us this image of the Nativity. We now enter the Year of Matthew and are grateful you are our guide in Advent Study!

Thank you & God's blessings,
♥ LCM"

• I designed a group of Advent grunge graphics for my Facebook design page and this blog featuring snippets from the first readings that each Advent Sunday in year A are from 1st Isaiah; the Nativity design still needs finishing touches.

• When Francisco Sepúlveda, familia and cohorts ventured into Las Californias, they never dreamt of a month like November 2016 I've only highlighted, but that's what can happen when you live in LA and you have several gigs. Stay tuned to this (occasional) frequency for next month...
• For time is a river rolling into nowhere
We must live while we can

So time is a river rolling into nowhere
I will live while I can
I will have my ever after

Steve Winwood, "The Finer Things"

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Advent 1 • Ad te levavi

Isaiah 2:1-5

1The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2In 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. 3Many 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. 4He 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. 5O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Enjoy

Kate Motaung hosts today's joy prompt.

Maybe you know the first question and answer, possibly more, in the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

oak creek canyon, sedonaQ. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever

Q. 8. How doth God execute his decrees?
A. God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence.

Q. 9. What is the work of creation?
A. The work of creation is God's making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.

Creation shows (shews) forth God's glory, so for five minutes I'll consider some ways I enjoy God through the natural world, God's works of providence and of creation. Arizona citrus #7I love deserts and The Desert, as you probably can tell from the name of this blog. Portions of the Sonoran Desert are in Arizona, and I can't imagine a better place than the desert for cleansing, renewal, finding perspective, rediscovering hope. But deserts aside, Arizona and all four corners states include an exceptional expanse of nature's best and most beautiful. Sedona and the nearby town of Jerome are well-known tourist destinations; I drew this picture of Oak Creek Canyon on a visit to Sedona a few years ago.

Continuing the topic of enjoying God's creation, gardens, vineyards, and orchards literally produce boundless joy! Olives, grapes, figs, pomegranates, grain, were tremendous Promised Land enticements. God has created a bountiful variety of flowers, berries, fruits, veggies... My second illustration is another of my drawings; this time it's a juicy group of Arizona citrus, specifically oranges.

five minute friday buttonfive minute friday enjoy

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Three Word Wednesday: Paper Plate Thanksgiving

thanksgiving season 3 word Wednesday

3 word wednesday button On her Three Word Wednesday Kristin tells us about a Paper Plate Thanksgiving she celebrated and enjoyed last weekend. Thanksgiving day USA is eight days away; thanks to the church I serendipitously discovered and began attending, last year was the first time in forever I was able to invite people to Thanksgiving dinner. Again next Thursday we'll worship as a community of friends, neighbors, strangers, and newcomers, and then feast on traditional turkey and trimmings. Preparing fancy food and decorating for any holiday can be exciting, but I resonate with Kristin's talk about paper plates rather than stoneware or china, about not even putting on shoes because the company, the community, and the taste and nourishment of the gifts of creation harvested from the earth are the main focus. You know we need to weigh economic and environmental costs of dishes and flatware for a large gathering—for example, for Sunday after-liturgy brunch at church we now use very few disposable anythings. But sometimes their are so many guests, the meeting space is small, not enough time or kitchen real estate to prepare multiple course meals. So what do you do? You need to lighten up some less important preferences, back away a few notches from your ideal. That's a "what's really important"message to myself.

Thanksgiving Day on the way—I haven't been doing a daily Facebook or journal gratitude list, so why not make one here. Kristin concluded with, "Being surrounded by my favorites filled my soul." This year I'm still grateful to have a roof over my head every night, enough food in my belly every day. Amazed to have been teaching every Sunday for the past year—all the way through Luke's lectionary year, guiding and being guided through another year of grace. Still dismayed I'm in another temp housing situation and haven't found anything long-term yet. The Chicago Cubs won the World Series. I love to remind people how baseball mirrors the dramas, the slowness, the surprises, the anything can happens in our own lives. Now what? Is the test of my keeping covenant staying put, doing what each day's work and tasks demands, or is getting out there and risking another move the test of my trust? I don't know. I do know I still long, yearn, ache, and need to be surrounded by my own favorites now and then. My own soul needs filling again.

Deuteronomy 26:2,11

You shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. 11Then you, together with the Levites and the strangers who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Into a Future

Hillary campaign bannerThree days later, I still cannot contain my anger about the presidential election process, specifically the electoral college. Again the candidate with the most popular votes did not win the election. However, I have a robustly Reformed high confidence in human aspects of the political process as well as in the ultimate sovereignty of grace and redemption; I don't do Martin Luther's Two Kingdoms / Two Realms.

Late Election Day Tuesday evening one of my former pastors who's now involved in a ministry that's somewhat alternative in style to the usual neighborhood church (by way of intro) updated his Facebook status with Psalm 2:

Why are the nations in tumult,
and the countries plotting in vain?
The kings of the earth establish themselves,
and the rulers conspire together....
He who sits enthroned in the heavens laughs.
The LORD derides them.
Then he speaks to them in his wrath,
and in his fury he terrifies them:
"But as for me, I have set my King
on Zion, on my holy mountain."
He concluded with, "Doesn't matter who the rulers of the earth are. God is still King."

I replied to him and to another friend I've been preparing for advent and I'm excited to tell my adult SS class "all three lectionary years begin Advent with a splash of apocalyptic, signaling the end of the world as we know it." We'll be just fine. God is still King. No checks and balances. None. The American Puritans with their theocracy and their City on a Hill thought they were establishing Zion. How about us? What now? What next?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Common

First FMF after the divisive presidential campaign and election in the USA; again this year, because of the outdated electoral college, the candidate with most popular votes did not win. Our host Kate Motaung gave us common for a prompt we could take in countless directions.

Intro: Most of my art, design, and writing carries a Creative Commons license, which means under certain conditions, anyone can use my creative work as long as they credit me. We experience a grace-bestowed common, joint, or collective union – koinonia – in Jesus Christ that we frequently express in the sacrament or ordinance of Holy Communion, The Lord's Supper, our "common unity."

But I'll write for five about a short, famous symphonic work of art by the late (USA) American composer Aaron Copland. The piece is from the middle of the past century, so he calls it "Fanfare for the Common Man," yet we need to realize man and men had gender-inclusive meanings back then.

Copland Americana playlist

Five Minute Friday

This USA doesn't have monarchs, kings, queens, any kind of hereditary royalty, though we do have a tradition of politicians, rock stars, movie stars and other celebrities occasionally regarded and treated with extra deference, sometimes a touch of awe. From the git-go when denizens of the new world still were British colonials, one of the ideas behind the experiment of the great republic was equality among and between all citizens. As the Declaration of Independence states, God created all humans equal [endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed]. In short, everyone is what Brits call a "commoner."

All the same? Not quite exactly, but no royals that outrank and out-bling everyone else, no one who rules without being chosen by the common people. So this common person Aaron Copland celebrated with a brassy fanfare adds up to everyone making their way, earning their keep, caring for the neighbor, voting in local and national elections. Is the common person grungy and urban? Sometimes. Rural and close to the soil? Quite often. On one coast or the other? I'm a commoner who's a left coaster. Is it common, ordinary, taken for granted that some of Copland's regular people will live in the heartland? Yes. And in every megalopolis the census has described, in towns with teeny populations, in unincorporated places outside the city limits. Every one celebrated, almost none a celebrity, not a single one royal. Because they live in the United States of America. Maybe a citizen, maybe on the way to, maybe sojourning in the states for a while as student or worker. Common. Ordinary, regular. Qualified to vote in every election, to decide who will govern them. That's un-common and worthy of a bright brass fanfare!

FMF Common five minute friday button

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Green Team Talk – Reformation/All Saints

Here's the devotional talk I gave last Thursday for the Green Faith Team meeting.

Congress of Two Crows• This week brings a confluence – a literal flowing together as rivers and streams of water do – of Reformation and All Saints. We celebrated Reformation last Sunday, recalling changes in the church the Holy Spirit made through human agency and also anticipating a church that never remains stagnant, always is alive. Next Sunday will be All Saints, when we especially remember those who have passed into the Church Triumphant, but All Saints is our day, as well. These actually are back-to-back festivals on 31 October and 01 November, but most churches celebrate both Reformation and All Saints on Sundays, since few people will attend weekday or weeknight services.

• Reformation is a major festival of the Holy Spirit when we "wear red," as we always do on the Day of Pentecost. The reading from Ephesians [1:13-14] for All Saints reminds us each of us in baptism carries the sign and seal of the Holy Spirit. All Saints is another festival of the Spirit!

• Pretty much from necessity, the Reformers particularly emphasized theology of redemption, of God's grace freely poured out, offered to all, given to all, through the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.

• The reformer Martin Luther got his theology from Galatians and from Romans, 1st Lutheran Glendale CAbut the psalms gave Luther his passion! Everyone knows the hymn he wrote based on Psalm 46; Pastor Eugene Peterson's version tells us the city streets are safe because God lives in the city; the city is safe because God bans war and breaks weapons. The city is a delight because God plants trees and flowers!

• We celebrate Pentecost and Reformation as major festivals of the presence of God in the Holy Spirit. But there is more! The priestly scribes who brought us the latest Pentateuch source [designated P] wrote late in the Babylonian exile or possibly after the exile, since dating is a bit confounded. They received a revelation that the destruction, the end of the Jerusalem Temple wasn't such a huge deal, after all. Imagine the crazy idea of a real God beyond space and time contained in a mini-replica of the earth and the heavens—that's what temples were! In Genesis 1 the priestly scribes show us all of the living structure of planet earth, the whole panorama of creation as God's dwelling place, the temple of the Divine. Genesis 1 also bring us the spoken Word that creates, orders, tames – redeems, renews, and reforms. And of course, we know Jesus Christ supremely as the Word of God.

• But there is still more! The Reformers – especially magisterial reformers John Calvin and Martin Luther – mostly concentrated on theology of God's grace-filled redemption of human creatures through the reconciling Christ Event. Halloween peopleHowever, John Calvin brings us a rich theology of creation revealing God's providence, of God's grace and providence revealed for all creation, not solely human creatures. Martin Luther brings us the insight of the Divine presence in, with, and under all creation. Beyond that, Luther affirms the ubiquity – the everywhere-ness – of the risen and ascended Jesus Christ. Can you say sacraments?

• The lectionary reading from Ephesians for All Saints reminds us baptism marks and seals us with the Holy Spirit. In the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, like all of planet earth, each of us is a dwelling place of God! Along with Reformation, All Saints is a festival of the Spirit; besides commemorating those in the Church triumphant, All Saints is a day for those of us still on planet earth, as well. How exciting to have the confluence of those major festivals this time of the year!

• And now? We need to trust, we can trust, the bounty of life in the Holy Spirit, the imagination of all creation, the reign of grace.

To God Alone Be glory; Amen!

Judicatory offices share the campus with First Lutheran Glendale Church and School.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

September - October Roundup

september-october 2016

• A double edition of some of my experiences and a few of my learnings starting September 01. Thanks to Isaac Newton Van Nuys, who didn't quite found the Los Angeles neighborhood where I'm staying, but still figures majorly with names of everything in this hardscrabble (good word, wikipedia, cuz it really is scratch for life in these here parts) town that now styles itself "The Heart of the San Fernando Valley."

Union Station LA Van Nuys mural

• On September 04 the Roman branch of the church declared Teresa of Kolkata an official saint.

cathedral bench Saint Teresa

• Small selection from my short photo-shoot at Union Station

Union Station Union Station Union Station

• After noonday liturgy at the cathedral...

LA Cathedral panorama LA Cathedral baptismal font LA Cathedral bread and cup

• a Friday afternoon jaunt alongside MOCA


• Really Really Good Times again with AC starting at our standard Wilshire / Vermont haunting place.

Wilshire / Vermont metro station hello koreatown! Coffee Bean at Wilshire / Vermont

• On the second Sunday of October cool weather monthly evensong at St James in the City on Wilshire started again; I left after about twenty minutes since it seemed to be a case of "is this really about Jesus or is this really about England?" But I got some excellent autumn perspectives.

Saint James on Wilshire saint James on Wilshire Saint James onWilshire6

• New Trees in the windows at the judicatory offices—window art technically belongs to the church-related school, but the campus is "all the same" for assembly, school, synod. Be sure to stay tuned for Pumpkins in my next edition.

Glendale Trees Glendale Trees Glendale Trees

• I recently refilled my TAP card more than once – twice! – at NoHo. Many LA Metro subway stations have unique décor, but North Hollywood just may be the winner. Besides, Isaac Van Nuys married into the Lankershim family of Lankershim Blvd local renown! Now I easily can ride the Metro to all those places of choice. That's Union Station on my transit card—I bought it in 2014 during the 75 year commemoration celebration.

Union Station LA Metro Transit Card

North Hollywood North Hollywood

• A couple weeks back ago my usual Saturday afternoon session when I more or less finalize Sunday morning SS class notes changed from being accompanied by a cold Frappuccino / Ice Blended / Frappé to hot latte.

• Autumn days and a trip to the Pumpkin Patch!

september-october 2016 september-october 2016 september-october 2016

• New exhibits and updated courtyard ambiance at the Hammer Museum. I love Nicolas Party's style!

Nicolas Party Hammer Museum Lanterns Nicolas Party

• Extremely excited to have the church I've been attending use and love my Reformation 2016 bulletin cover! This is one of the quite similar cover photos / timeline banners I made for my fb design page.

reformation banner

• I finished this year's #Write31Days2016! Due to my own unsettledness and intermittent home internet status, it was a bit shaky, but still fun and an accomplishment I hope to repeat next year for 2017.

• Van Nuys and adjacent Panorama City (yay, Panorama Mall!) are largely Salvadoran—both immigrant and American-born ethnic Salvadoran. For north American Christians, El Salvador evokes an indelible freeze-frame of Archbishop Óscar Romero's assassination as he celebrated the Eucharist. I often wonder if my host fam and my neighbors consider themselves diaspora, American, marginal, Salvadoran, or liminal?