Sunday, March 30, 2008

On gardening

The backyard at the parsonage where I’ll be going in July has not exactly been landscaped. At one point in history it was. So there are big, mature trees, there’s a rock pond, and what was formerly an intentional flower bed. At some point in history it was left to become a dirt lot. Then was *organically* done as the leaves etc fell and were helped to become mulch and then just *fertilize* the yard. As such, it is a green mix of daffodils, trees, wildflowers, weeds, and who knows what else.

I’m excited about having a yard. I want to plant a garden. I want to plant flowers. And with a dog, possibly 2, joining me, I’d like grass too. So I’m already plotting the plants I want to buy, the weeds that will be pulled, the spot for composting, and identifying the good sun areas for the vegetables. But as I learn more and more lessons about patience, I also know that it would probably be wise to wait the seasons out and see what is already there that can be left, used, or simply transplanted. And at my parents’ urging, I also know it would probably be good if I cultivated the compost pile for a year and then used that soil to plant a garden next year and not deal with it in the craziness of this year’s move and adjustment. I get all of those things, but I am also impatient and want to have it just so as soon as possible so I can really enjoy it.

All of that got me thinking about the church. Going to a new church, I’ve been thinking about what we can do. Brainstorming about worship. Planning community outreach. Dreaming up studies and programs. And then this last week I was reminded to be patient. To not do too much too quickly. To take my time. To observe. To build relationships and then do something. And I realized the congregation is much like my future backyard. There will be large mature trees. Daffodils that survived the years and need just a little extra watering. Wildflowers that offer beauty. Some things that have been done intentionally and others that just sort of happened. There will be some weeds that need to be pulled, and some plants that can afford to be transplanted. Others will surprise me in the changing seasons with what they have to offer. Much like my garden, it will be important to be patient and observe the seasons to see what is there. To find a place to create compost (a place for nutrient rich soil) that can be used in future planting. And yes, to seek out the obvious weeds and begin to pull those, but to be careful not to disturb that which has much to offer.

Looks like I will be doing more gardening that I anticipated. It will take much patience, hard, hot, sweaty labor, planning, intentionality, nutrients, and water as well as care and upkeep.

Here’s to new growth, the revelation and beauty of the seasons, and a beautiful, healthy ecosystem.


I’ve blogged about forgiveness before, mostly about how it’s easier to counsel someone to do it, than to actually do it yourself. I’ve had a couple of particularly tough cases (personally) over the past year. And as such, there are particularly difficult people to forgive. As a major Christian tenant, I’ve known it needed to happen. I’ve also known that every time I feel close to forgiveness, another incident happens and I think, “See! That’s why you’re simply impossible to forgive.” And I have to admit that, on occasion, my prayers for forgiveness go something like this: “Dear God, please help me forgive R for being such a dunderheaded jerk. Please help R see the error of R’s ways. Amen.” What can I say? I’m human.

Throughout Lent I made a concerted effort to pray for my relationship with R. I wanted forgiveness. I wanted to be free of the anger, the hurt, and the resentment. I wanted to be able to show R love even if I couldn’t feel loved by R. I have had countless conversations about this relationship. My sister’s prayer early on was, “Dear God, Please provide reconciliation in this relationship in a way where we have to acknowledge that it was you alone who made it happen.” A colleague/mentor/friend/prayer partner prayed, “May you have complete closure, restoration, and wholeness in this relationship so that nothing lies as an obstacle between you.” (Coming out of yet another difficult interaction, it was all I could do not to scoff).

I have prayed. I have doubted. I have been intentional. I have prayed more. I have given up. I have prayed some more. I set it out of the forefront of my mind. Then Easter week it happened. I had occasion to see R and at some point during the event, I looked at R and realized God had healed me/us. I was not angry. I was not bitter. I was not walled up. I was not hurting. God performed a miracle and had restored my heart. Just as my sister’s prayer had indicated, it was undeniable that it was a God thing because R was not asking for forgiveness and as much as I knew it was right, I couldn’t offer it.

God is good. God answered a prayer. (Multiple prayers actually).

It’s probably no coincidence that it happened in close proximity to Easter. That is what Easter is about right?! Forgiveness. Reconciliation. God doing what we cannot do for ourselves no matter how good or earnest our intentions. God bridging boundaries that we create amongst ourselves and then need to the divine to break down because we did such a phenomenal job of creating walls between and around us.

Praise God for the good news—the news that I do not have to do this for or by myself. Praise God for the good news that the blood of Christ, the conquest of death and sin and darkness is greater than my imagination will stretch.

Praise God for answered prayer.

These are my favorites:

I particularly like that the winnings are listed under my name and address--which they need me to provide in an email of response. I also like that there was a mix up with the numbers, and that I'm not supposed to make this information public. I like that. Apparently I goofed by putting it here, but I was willing to risk 3.5 million euros for a major identity theft and fraud scam.


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This is from a total cash prize of Euros 60,015.225.00, shared among the twenty five international winners in this category. Note that all participants in this lottery program have been selected randomly through a computer ballot system drawn from over 30,000 companies and 800,000 individual email addresses from all search engines and web sites. This promotional program takes place every year and we hope your lucky name will draw a bigger cash prize in the subsequent programs.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour Movie - Narrated by Jeremy Piven

In honor of Earth Hour, this is a post to remind you to turn off your lights from 8pm to 9pm tonight. Light a candle, read a book, and help raise awareness for climate change in the world.

(ht: Racher)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Our next publicity campaign

I'm not sure what I was thinking about exactly, but it had to do with people feeling called to the clergy and the stereotypes of images. I had the phrase in my head: "Don't think you fit the mold?" And then it occurred to me--I didn't either. Neither did many of my friends. So the response is then: "Neither did we." I've decided it would be great for our next ad campaign (either or Here's how it would look (use your imagination here):

Don't think you fit the mold?

[pic of various young clergy, formally dressed, probably clergy collars--very reformed]

Neither did we.

[pic of same various young clergy but dressed either casually/hip OR in outfits that represent their particular interests (i.e., skiing, biking, reading, cooking, photographing...)]

Then this morning, I decided we could use it as the church's next ad campaign--except instead of an ad for call/clergy/seminary it's an ad about church--the mold pic being robes, or somber in pews with hymnals, or whatever rigid stereotype image you want and then the second one being the look of your church--casual, praise band, liturgical dance, people who dress differently (Emo, punk, board shorts....whatever)

...give him your cloak too

Not only is this story blog worthy, but it'll preach.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Save up to $900

My TV went on the fritz a few weeks before Lent. I found that I had lots of extra time on my hands--so I went back to reading and quilting and filling my time with lots of productive things (even including sleep). So, recognizing how healthy the forced TV-fast was for me, I decided not to get my TV fixed right away and instead to make no-TV part of my Lenten disciplines. Well, Lent is over and I thought it might be nice to watch a few things, but still need to get my TV fixed. So I started calling around. store 1: $20 for an at home estimate (horrible reviews from Better Business Bureau). Store 2: $40 must bring it to store. He recommends not even bothering. Store 3: $100 for an in-store estimate. Store 4: $15 for in-store estimate. The TV itself is 7 years old and was a hand-me-down that I paid $0 for.

I called my brother for advice and he said not to buy one, to wait and see what he could find in rummage stuff. I also emailed some parishioners to see who they might recommend. Just for kicks I thought I'd check out and see how much a TV might of the first things I saw was:
"Save Up to $900 on Select HDTVs!" RIGHT. If we're talking about saving$900 we're definitely NOT in the same ball-park. Really folks. I wouldn't even spend $900 on a TV, let alone buy one expensive enough to warrant saving $900. Give me a break.

On a side note, as I thought about this TV business and washed dishes, I amused myself by thinking: "what if I married a guy who thought dropping $1000-$2000 on a TV was a good idea?" I just laughed. Boy would he have married the wrong woman. There's no way I could justify that. Do you know how many kids' elementary education I could pay for for a YEAR with that? In Nicaragua: at least 65. Or we could buy 200 mosquito nets to prevent Malaria. Or we could sponsor 100 kids to go to camp in Mexico. Or even 10 kids to go to camp in the US. Or a BA degree's worth of books, or.... you get the idea. Mr. Deb would be S.O.L. on that home entertainment center. Sorry.

**Note to self. Never say never, as Murphy *(of Murphy's Law) LOVES you and you will surely eat your words.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Scriptural Stations of the Cross

These stations of the cross were written for the Good Friday service at Hemet United Methodist Church. All scripture passages were taken from the NIV. All meditations were written by Rev. Debbie Camphouse. Feel free to use these stations/meditations for your own church services or personal meditation. If you choose to replicate them for public use, please give credit to the author.

Station 1

Jesus Prays Alone

Luke 22:39-44

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.


God calls us to do big things. Often we feel overwhelmed, afraid, or nervous. We are unsure of what to do. Unsure of what will actually happen. Our worry and anxiety consume our hearts and minds as we plan with fear and trembling.

We trust God. True. But just because God is good does not mean everything we do will happen as it should.

We, after all, are prone to error.

At those times we must follow the example of Jesus. We must turn to God in prayer. Find a quiet place, free from distractions, and turn it over to God.

“If you are willing God, take this cup from me. Yet not my will but yours be done.”

We are free to ask for reprieve. Free to petition for a different path. But ultimately our prayer is for God’s will to be done, not our own.

“…thy kingdom come, thy will be done…”

Whatever it is in your life, whatever God has called you to do, take time now to turn it over to God.

Station 2

Jesus is arrested

Matthew 26:47-56

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Put your sword back in it’s place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”


Please put the handcuffs on your wrists as you meditate at this station.


The sting of betrayal is maddening, painful, and provoking all at the same time.

We invest in people.

We care for them.

We love them.

We give of ourselves.

We make sacrifices.

We cherish our relationship and seek to make it stronger.

And then we’re betrayed.

The power of it is like a blow to the stomach.

We’re speechless.


Gasping to get our breath and our bearings.


This can’t be right?

He betrayed me?

She lied to me?

Our mind races to uncover the grievous act.

Where did I go wrong?

What should I have done?

How did I let this happen?

Station 3

Sanhedrin tries Jesus

Mark 14:61-64

But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as worthy of death.


“Are you the Christ? The Son of the Blessed One?”

There’s no right answer.

Condemned if I do.

Condmened if I don’t.

“Are you the Christ?”

Yes. I am.

I am the Messiah. The Anointed One. I am the Son of God.

But that’s not the right answer.

Not for you anyway.

Strangely you’d rather I lied.

I’m only a prophet.

I’m just a Rabbi.

I’m a healer.

I am those things,

And so much more.

And still you condemn me.

“Worthy of death.”


Is this really what I deserve?

Station 4

Pilate tries Jesus

John 18:33-37

Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of the truth listens to me.”


Pilate is just one more in a long list of people who doesn't get it.

He doesn't see Jesus.

He does not understand what he means for the world.

Sometimes it seems Jesus should have been more incredulous.

He was human after all.

"Are you the king of the Jews?"

Why didn't Jesus say, "Does it look like I'm the king of the Jews? They just handed me over to be killed. And you think I'm their king?"

It's good to know who's running this government.

"My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."

Why can no one see?

Who I am is bigger than right here right now.

Look at me, but look beyond me, look to the One who sent me.

Station 5

Pilate sentences Jesus

Mark 15:6-15

Now it was the custom at the Feast to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did. “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, knowing it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead. “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. “Crucify him!” they shouted. “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.


Looking in retrospect close to 2000 years later, it is easy to judge the crowd, to distance ourselves from them. We know we wouldn’t have been one of them. We would never have betrayed Jesus. We would have known who he was. We would have been faithful.

After all we praised him as he entered the gates of Jerusalem. We cried, “Hosanna! Blessed is the son of David. Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest.”

We’re on his side and are not easily persuaded.

It’s easy to think that anyway.

Remember, the crowds in Jerusalem who shouted “Crucify him!” were also those who shouted “Hosanna!”

People are people no matter the century. We easily get caught up in the passion of the moment setting aside our true values and beliefs.

Not convinced?

As Christians we aim to be compassionate, understanding, gracious, just, and merciful.


Have you ever been so angered by someone who cut you off that you swore at him/her or returned the act in kind?

Have you cut all ties with a family member over a dispute that happened years ago?

Have you refused to forgive?

When you see a person begging in the street, do you always lend a helping hand, or have you, on occasion, looked away?

The currents of culture and passions of people can be tempting, seductive, and strong.

The angry crowds who shout “Crucify Him!” are not just those people at that time. They are us. We are them.

Station 6

Jesus wears the crown

John 19:5

When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”


Please place a holly crown on your head as you meditate at this station.


As we often say, Jesus was the King of kings and the Lord of lords. His kingdom is vast stretching beyond borders, beyond time. His kingship is not that of a dictator or tyrant. It is that of a merciful, humble servant—a king who does for us rather than demanding that we do for him.

Yet, despite his goodness, we often fail to give him a place of honor. Instead of including him in our decision making, our relationships, our life plans, we push him aside, ask for help only after the fact, and expect more and more from him rather than being satisfied with what we have already received.

This crown of thorns served to mock the King.

This crown was a joke, a farse, an insult.

When Christ’s role in our life becomes cursory, secondary, or trivial we deny him the honor he is due.

When we fail to acknowledge who Jesus really is, we place a crown of thorns upon his head.

Is Christ the Lord of your life?

Has he received the place of honor?

What needs to change in your relationship with Christ so that you no longer place a crown of thorns upon his head?

Station 7

Jesus carries his cross

John 10:17-18

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord, I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.



The cross Christ bore was heavy, big, and cumbersome. Already having been whipped and beaten, he was forced to muster energy to carry the cross through the streets full of people who mocked, jeered, spat at, and hated him.

We can only imagine what that would have been like.

Take time now to be drawn into that moment.

Turn the hour glass timer and let your time begin.

Raise both your arms to a 90 degree angle out in front of you. Hold them there until the time runs out.

Even without additional weight your muscles will tire and may begin to burn. As you struggle with your own discomfort, focus your thoughts on Christ as he walked the Via Dolorosa through the streets of Jerusalem.

Station 8

Simon carries the cross

Luke 23:26

As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.


Yesterday you received news that after much debate and many long, late hours in session, the Senate and the House have approved a withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. Return trips home will begin at the end of the weekend for some 50,000 troops. Over the next 6 months the remaining troops will also be brought back to American soil.

Today things are different. You hold in your hand the President’s veto of the withdrawal order. “By Order of the Executive Office of the United States of America…”

The war will continue. The troops remain deployed.

An anxious crowd awaits the news. Many are hopeful they will see their loved one soon. Others are angry we are not finishing what we started.

Still we wait…we wait for a timeline. We wait for answers. We wait for peace.

You must share the news.

How do you feel?

Some will cheer.

Others will spit at you and jeer.

Why God?

Why me God?

Station 9

Jesus speaks to the women

Luke 23:27-31

A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and waited for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, “Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!” Then “’they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”


Think of the person closest to you in your life. Think of your times spent together—times of laughter, times of tears, times of celebration, and times of celebration. This person is suddenly killed in a car accident and you are prohibited from attending any sort of memorial or funeral service. Those around you are insistent that you cannot grieve his/her loss. You shall not shed a tear. You shall not say a prayer. You are not to mourn him/her. Period. You may not see him/her one last time. You will not say goodbye.

You are told instead that there will be things in the future for which you will grieve. Focus your attention on them. There will be tragedy and devastation, heartache and loss. Mourn for those things. Save you tears for another day.

But today your grief and loss, fear and anger are not for those things that have yet to happen. They are not for future things. They are for your loved one. The one you miss today. The one you cannot be with at this moment. And still you are told not to grieve, not to cry, not to lament.

Why Lord?


Why would you make such prohibitions?

How could you be so heartless?

Station 10

Jesus is crucified

Luke 23:33-34

When they came to the place with the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.


Please place your hands or your feet on the nails as you meditate at this station.


We can only imagine the suffering Christ endured.

In Roman culture, crucifixion was considered the most painful and horrible way to die.

People often suffered for days as they languished in agony, exhausted from holding themselves up to ease the pain raging in their hands, struggling to breathe as their lungs filled with fluid.

Crucifixion was merciless and cruel.

And yet, out of love, God allowed God’s self to be murdered in such a way so as to save us from darkness, sin, and death.

God, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the one born of the Virgin Mary, who was wrapped in swaddling clothes, the one who studied and learned in the temples, who exorcised demons, and performed miracles of wellness and bounty, Emmanuel, God in the flesh, suffered in the flesh for our sake.

Christ bled for you.

Christ endured for you.

Christ suffered for you.

Station 11

Criminals speak to Jesus

Luke 23:39-43

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”


You have committed a heinous crime—worthy of death.

You wait on death row.

Your execution date draws near.


Tomorrow you will be executed.

Knowing what’s to come, you find your way to the chapel.

You need God.


Take a piece of paper and write a final prayer.


What is on your heart?

What is on your mind?

What is it you need from God?

Station 12

Jesus speaks to Mary and John

John 19:25b-27

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.


Dear Mom,

I’m sorry you had to see me like this. I couldn’t allow things to keep going like they were. It was unbearable. The hate, the fighting, the greed, the destruction, the prejudice, the bigotry. It wasn’t worth it.

Know you raised me right and that I love you. This isn’t because of you. It’s because of my father.

Don’t be angry or blame him. We talked about it and we’ll all be better off this way. Some day you’ll understand.

John, you’re my best friend. I love you. Please take care of my mom. She’ll need someone with me gone.


Station 13

Jesus dies on the cross

John 19:28-34

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

As Jesus suffered on the cross, he was offered vinegar to drink.


Bitter and tangy.


Please take and drink a small cup of vinegar as you meditate at this station.


The power and weight of what Christ did for us is incredible, awesome, and indescribable.

The bitterness of knowing that God was beaten, mocked, spat upon, and crucified because of our sins is immense.

You are asked to physically swallow the vinegar before you as you figuratively swallow the profound nature of Good Friday and the Crucifixion.

What is difficult to understand?

What is difficult to accept?


Take a deep breath and know that Christ has breathed his last.

Station 14

Jesus is laid in the tomb

John 19:38-42

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.


Jesus died.

He really died.

Emmanuel died.

He breathed no more.

The Christ child died.

His heart stopped beating.

The Messiah died.

His brain stopped working.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, son of David, root of Jesse, Prince of Peace, King of kings, lord of Lords, Teacher, Prophet, Healer, Priest, Jesus Christ died.

The death on the cross is real.

Not some fairy tale.

Not superstition.


God came into this world, lived and walked as we do, and died as we do.

Ashes to ashes.

Dust to dust.


I know better than that!

It has been a service/worship extravaganza this week. Funeral Tuesday. Funeral plus committal Wednesday. Foot washing Wednesday. Afternoon Maundy Thursday service (at which I preached). Evening Maunday Thursday service at which I assisted. FOURTEEN stations of the cross. An evening Tenebrae service tonight. Then 2 Easter services on Sunday, one of which I will preach.

As I walked back from a friends to my apartment I thought, man, I think these sermons, eulogies, studies, and stations have taken me for everything I have. Good thing I don't have a service tomorrow.

I know I shouldn't have thought it. No sooner did I walk into the house that the phone rang--the funeral director. She's in a pickle and needs a pastor for a service tomorrow. Can I do it? Sure. Why not?! I mean, if you're gonna wear yourself thin, you might as well go all the way, right?

And everyone deserves a service that honors and celebrates their life, even if it does happen to take place the day before the BIGGEST Christian holiday all year.

Right?! Right.

Now I'm off to finish the stations, prep a funeral, and write an Easter sermon.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My reason for saying no to the clergy couple gig

Currently, in the midst of my very packed, very busy, fairly stressful Holy Week I have gained some clarity about my future (hopefully...Dear Lord, you are still working on that one, right?!) husband: Reason #1 not to marry another clergy person: there is no one left to cook, clean, do dishes, or do laundry during the high holy seasons.

Maybe it's silly, but working multiple 12-14 hour days for the majority of a week straight does not leave me with a whole lot of ganas to do any kind of household anything and it would be really nice if the future Mr. Wonderful were not equally preoccupied at these times.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Quote of the Day

"We act and believe that all the troubles in the world and our lives can only be beaten when we are bigger, stronger, faster, and perfect. But that is not how God works. He takes us as we are and works with what we have." --John Meunier

Monday, March 17, 2008

Letania de las palmas hacia la pasion

El domingo de las palmas hicimos de las palmas hacia la cruz. Me frustro con los pocos que vienen viernes santo y tienen que aguantar a los sentimientos pesados. Entonces, les di de todo el domingo pasado. Hice dos monologos que se puede encontrar aqui y aqui y usamos esta letania para recordarnos de los otros eventos.

L: Estuvieron allí cuando Jesús entro a Jerusalén?

G: Si! Estuvimos allí. Levantamos las palmas y exclamamos “Hosanna”!

L: Estuvieron allí cuando tiraban las mesas del templo.

G: Si. Estuvimos allí. Estuvimos sorprendidos y nos quedamos sin palabras.

L: Estuvieron cuando enseno sobre los pleitos entre familia?

G: Si. Estuvimos allí. Tuvimos miedo y estuvimos preocupados.

L: Estuvieron cuando dijo que derrumbaría el templo?

G: Si. Estuvimos allí. Estuvimos consternados y nos dio asco.

L: Estuvieron cuando partió el pan y compartió la copa?

G: Si. Estuvimos allí. Comimos y bebimos con miedo por lo que le esperaba.

L: Estuvieron cuando nombro al traidor?

G: Si. Estuvimos allí. Nos dio pena y ira.

L: Estuvieron cuando nos levantó del sueño?

G: Si. Estuvimos allí. Teníamos sueno y no podíamos quedarnos despiertos.

L: Estuvieron cuando lo llevaban por las calles?

G: Si. Estuvimos allí. Nos escondimos detrás de la gente y esperamos que nadie nos viera.

L: Estuvieron allí cuando le interrogaba Pilato?

G: Si. Estuvimos allí. Exclamamos con la multitud: Crucificalo!

L: Estuvieron cuando llevaba la cruz?

G: Si. Estuvimos allí. Mirabamos en silencio y escupimos a sus pies.

L: Estuvieron cuando lo colgaron en la cruz?

G: Si. Estuvimos allí. Estuvimos alli.


This last Sunday we covered the Triumphant Entry to the Crucifixion. I'm stubborn and get frustrated that only 20 people come to the good Friday service and have to really wrestle with the weight of Good Friday, so I threw it all into one. =) And then instead of typical sermons, I did dramatic monologues, which can be found here and here. Below is the litany that we used to remember the weeks events...

L: Were you there when Jesus entered Jerusalem?

P: Yes! We were there. We waived our palms and shouted Hosanna!

L: Were you there when he turned the tables at the temple?

P: Yes. We were there. We were shocked and speechless.

L: Were you there when he taught about brothers against brothers and fathers against sons?

P: Yes. We were there. We were scared and worried.

L: Were you there when he said the temple would be destroyed?

P: Yes. We were there. We were disgusted and dismayed.

L: Were you there when he broke the bread and shared the cup?

P: Yes. We were there. We ate and drank afraid of what was to come.

L: Were you there when he named a traitor?

P: Yes. We were there. We were ashamed and angry.

L: Were you there when he woke us from our sleep?

P: Yes. We were there. We were tired and couldn’t stay awake.

L: Were you there when they led him through the streets?

P: Yes. We were there. We hid amongst the people hoping no one would notice us.

L: Were you there when Pilate asked?

P: Yes. We were there. We shouted with the crowds: Crucify Him!

L: Were you there when he carried the cross?

P: Yes. We were there. We looked on in silence and spat at his feet.

L: Were you there when they hung him on the cross?

P: Yes. We were there. We were there.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Bishop's top 10

Every week our Bishop sends an email "e360" with her thoughts on world issues, theological debates, church issues, whatever she sees fit for the week. Generally I appreciate her words. And depending on the theme or the week I may be moved one week than another.

A few weeks ago she talked about the church closing shop for a day like Starbucks did to refocus on what our true purpose is. She spoke in mostly generalities. The following week we heard/read comments from various folks around the conference. One basically called her out and said, "I think you're talking about X, but you didn't really say, could you clarify?"

This week she sent out her top ten list for General Conference (found below). I was pleased with a number of her items, but was more pleased with the specificity (without being too rigid or narrow) of what she hoped for. The things she named are easily translatable into congregational settings and can be used/implemented in a variety of ways.

My frustration throughout this year (from a variety of places in the conference) has been a lack of expectations. No one can/will tell me what they want from me (as a pastor/young adult/Christian...). We talk in ambiguities and fail to name the things we expect of people. I posted before about living up to expectations, so I won't go into all of that again. But it was nice this week to have a handle on what, specifically, the Bishop is looking for from the churches/disciples/members of our conference.

e360 March 12, 2008 “Bishop’s Top Ten

Following Bishop Swenson’s elective, out-patient surgery last week, she was recovering nicely at home—and still managed to get a flu bug. So since she’s still down for a bit, we decided to send here the article also appearing in today’s edition of the national UM-Newscope: the Bishop was asked to list what she thought would be the “top ten things that General Conference could do that would make a real difference.” For those of you who don’t get Newscope, here’s her list. And for her follow-up on the “Starbucks & core competency” question, watch for her message here next week, when we trust she’ll be feeling much better. gary

Top Ten Actions of General Conference That Would Make Disciples of Jesus Christ For the Transformation of the World

Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, Los Angeles Episcopal Area

1. Admission into congregational membership shall be contingent upon the following criteria: pending members shall regularly participate in a class / covenant group meeting (3/4 of the scheduled meetings over four months); be recommended by the pending member’s class / covenant group; accomplish 72 hours of hands-on mission service; make and keep a pledge of 3% of net taxable income. Annual continuation of membership shall be contingent upon these same criteria, with the modification that the period of class participation shall be over ten months.

2. Every annual conference shall annually provide evidence to the Council of Bishops that 25% of the conference’s total worshipping attendance has participated in 72 or more hours of hands-on mission work with the homeless and the hungry, the ill and dispossessed.

3. Every annual conference shall provide evidence to the Council of Bishops that the Conference is annually increasing the percentage of those in worship attendance participating in hands-on mission work.

4. The General Conference shall expand funding in order to scholarship at least 50% of the cost of full-time enrollment for approved ministerial candidates attending United Methodist seminaries.

5. The General Conference shall extend funding to cover at least 50% of the cost of lay speaker certification across the denomination.

6. The General Conference shall assign to the Jurisdictional Sessions the authority to monitor and approve the operational and missional structures of the annual conferences within their respective jurisdictions.

7. Congregations seeking a full-time appointed elder shall show pledged and loose plate receipts for the prior two years sufficient to fully compensate an appointment at the minimum equitable salary rate as established by the Annual Conference in which the congregation is located.

8. For the purposes of interfaith dialogue, General Conference shall suspend Articles I and II of the Restrictive Rules for one quadrennium.

9. The General Conference shall make the following co-contingent changes:

§ Re-set the term of service for Bishops from four years to six years;

§ Re-set the frequency of Jurisdictional Conferences to every three years;

§ Re-set the total number of delegates to General Conference to 500;

§ Re-set the frequency of General Conference to every six years;

§ Empower the Connectional Table to address denominational needs in the interim between General Conference sessions.

10. General Conference shall schedule one full day of the 2012 General Session for all delegates to be in hands-on service to the indigent living in the city hosting the General Conference.