30 March 2007
1. Will this Sunday be Palms only, Passion only, or hyphenated?
This year we've been calling it "Palm & Passion Sunday." It seems to capture the importance of both. I still encourage our members to come to all the Holy Week services, but I know that's not a possibility for everyone, so the reading of the Passion on Sunday doesn't bother me. This year we're doing a dramatic reading and I only have one line, so I get to step out of the way of the story and let the words be what they are without my input. That's a rare occasion and one I hope will be beneficial to our congregation.
2. Maundy Thursday Footwashing: Discuss.
It's never been done in any congregation of which I've been a part, clergy or lay. Growing up among Swedish Lutherans and now serving even more stoic Norwegian Lutherans, I think the intimacy of the service is, in a word, pretty frightening (and I mean that in the most tender way - I don't want to demean the folks I serve in any way, for in this respect I am one of them). Beloved and I have taken part in footwashing services on YouthWorks mission trips and it's always an intensely intimate experience. Peter's first response to Jesus in John makes absolute sense to me. That's one of the crosses I bear - a fear of that kind of deep intimacy with people outside of my family.
3. Share a particularly meaningful Good Friday worship experience.
When I was in college the Lutheran Student Center had a Passover Seder at 7:00 on Maundy Thursday, then the Maundy Thursday service at 9:00, followed by an all night prayer vigil, culminated with a Good Friday service centered on the Seven Last Words and the hymn "Jesus, in Thy Dying Woes" (all 21 verses). The silence and holiness of that service have always had a profound impact on me. This year our church will be using the Good Friday liturgy from our new Lutheran hymnal, which focuses more on the cross and less on Jesus' words from the cross. We will do the Bidding Prayer and Solemn Reproaches to close the service, but I will miss the Seven Last Words service I've grown to love.
4. Easter Sunrise Services--choose one:
a) "Resurrection tradition par excellence!"
b) "Eh. As long as it's sunrise with coffee, I can live with it."
c) "[Yawn] Can't Jesus stay in the tomb just five more minutes, Mom?!?"
I choose A, without a doubt. In my hometown, the sunrise service was always an ecumenical service, so we got to hear other preachers and worship with other friends and families (except for the Missouri Synod Lutherans, of course, but I hear that is changing a bit). Since I am now the President, Sergeant-at-Arms and Treasurer of our Barrett Ministerium of One, I do miss that collegiality and ecumenical experience. But we have our own Sunrise Service and it's a nice experience.
5. Complete this sentence: It just isn't Easter without...
Smartass answer: uhhh, the empty tomb? Hello? :-)
Serious answer: the hymns, the hymns, the hymns. I find that Easter sermons are pretty forgettable: how can you interpret the Resurrection and make it more wonderful than it already is? But the hymns say so much that sermons can't say - on Easter our worship team always plugs in every "Alleluia" we can find. This year I purchased a number of organ fanfares for our organist and asked her to see if she can work them into the service - hopefully it'll be an experience to remember.
Sentimental answer: Easter breakfast. My home church did an omelet feed, since my hometown was also the hometown of the M.G. Waldbaum company, one of the largest egg producers in the world. In my present call, it's been the tradition to do an Easter brunch between services. The chance to just sit, eat well and be in fellowship with my friends and family is one I enjoy much.
Bonus: Any Easter Vigil aficionados out there? Please share.
Beloved and I went to an Easter Vigil service last year and enjoyed it, though I think it was more because we could just worship and not LEAD worship. I hope to have a chance to develop a Vigil service somewhere in a future call; something tells me that our present location wouldn't produce the numbers required to make the time well-spent.
28 March 2007
ABC News story on MinistryWatch
Virginia Pilot story on Pat Robertson (YOU SUCK, PAT!)
27 March 2007
Just after we snapped this picture, Beloved left for a meeting at her church and Dad & Ainsley had three hours on our own. The first hour was a crying jag - man, does our little girl have some good lungs! After she calmed down & had her evening bottle, I bundled her up and walked down to Roosevelt Hall for auditions for this summer's production, "Inherit the Wind." I think I might get the role I was hoping to get - woot! Ainsley started another crying fit just as I started reading for my part, but my fellow Prairie Wind Players were troopers and kept her occupied while I finished up my audition.
After I finished reading, I chatted with PWP friends for 20 minutes or so with Ainsley asleep in my arms, then we bundled her into the stroller for the walk home. Once we got home, I got her down to sleep before Beloved returned from her meeting. A great day all around.
I've decided to get back to more writing here and less reporting on baby stuff & memes, though I do enjoy that stuff and will continue to do some of them. I'll be posting a writing on wilderness later today and will hopefully be getting back to a weekly reflection now that life with Baby is getting a little more settled. If you're looking for good writing, check out Don't Eat Alone in my blogroll; Milton is a wonderfully talented writer and always has something thought-provoking to say.
26 March 2007
Okay, well, it wasn't a jog - we just wanted to try out the jogging stroller late Friday night. It was great until we were headed back home, looked down and realized that Ainsley's eyelids were getting blue. Apparently it wasn't as warm for Baby as it was for Mom & Dad. Oops. But she didn't cry and slept really well Friday night, so I guess all's well that ends well.
I'm lifting this from Mark's blog: My Firsts
1. Who was your first prom date?
Uff - great one to start on. Her name was Jennifer, I met her at Music Camp, and she was everything Allyson Hannigan was NOT in American Pie. Wow, what a disaster. I spent all day cleaning up my dad's new pickup, and the first thing she said was "it smells like pigs." (he'd only had it for a month or so - that's some nose, huh?). The night just got worse from there. Both my junior and senior proms were terrible nights - maybe we could file that under "first experiences of abject humiliation?"
2. Who was your first roommate?
Not counting my brother, my first roommate was a guy named Brady at Music Camp. A great friend throughout my sophomore, junior & senior years of high school. I can't remember my first college roommate's name, but he was cool - we were both smokers and he had that giant poster of marching hammers from "The Wall" above his bed.
3. What alcoholic beverage did you first drink?
Not counting the occasional beer I snuck out of my parents' fridge, my first alcoholic beverage was a mixer of Seven-Up and Bubble Gum Schnapps. No, I wasn't at a sorority party - it was all my friend Aron could scare up before the Valentine's Day dance my senior year of high school.
4. What was your first job?
Box taper at Big Red, the egg packaging plant just outside of my hometown. Run the box through the taping machine, stack the box on a pallet: sixty cases to a pallet, thirty dozen eggs to a case. At least I didn't have to work in the chicken houses like my brother.
5. What was your first car?
A 1977 Buick LeSabre. Man, I loved that car. 350 V8 with a 4-barrel carbuerator - smooth sailor. I had a tape deck & everything!
6. When did you go to your first funeral?
I remember going to my Great-Grandma Spangler's funeral when I was 4 or so, I think. The first funeral I remember really well was my Grandpa Janke's funeral; I was 12, had just placed second in the county spelling bee, and the pastor told me that Grandpa had said he was very proud of me. That was a heck of a thing for a pastor to remember; he was a good guy.
7. Who was your first grade teacher?
Mrs. Sharpe. At the time I thought she was pretty mean, but by the time I graduated from high school I liked her quite a bit. She was a good teacher.
8. Where did you go on your first ride on an airplane?
When I was 14 my family drove from Nebraska to Seattle to visit my Aunt Phyllis & cousin Karen, stopping at Yellowstone and a number of other spots along the way. My Grandma & Grandpa Johnson flew out to Seattle, then they drove our car back & we flew home. Phyllis worked for Northwest Airlines at the time, so she was able to get some pretty cheap tickets for all of us, though I imagine we probably flew stand-by. I remember we connected from Seattle to Omaha through Las Vegas, and there were slot machines in the airport. Dad got to go play but we didn't. No fair!
9. When you snuck out of your house for the first time, who was it with?
Considering we lived three miles out of town, we didn't really sneak out of the house with anyone. I did sneak out once when I was really in trouble with my folks. I climbed a tree & hid up there, twenty feet off the ground, while my dad came looking for me. Stayed up there for about an hour or so, then came back to the house & took my medicine.
10. Where was your first sleepover?
My friend Anthony's house, about a mile away from our farm. During kindergarten & first grade, it seemed like every Friday one of us slept over with the other; we watched "The Dukes of Hazzard" Friday night & played football all day Saturday with our little brothers. Good times.
11. Who is the first person you talk to in the morning?
My daughter, though the conversation is generally one-sided.
12. Whose wedding were you in the first time?
I was the ring-bearer for my Uncle Ken's wedding when I was five. I remember the tuxedo shirt had ruffles and it didn't fit right; the photographer commented on my pants being really baggy and she was really mean. But my Aunt Arta's little sister was the flower girl and I remember thinking she was really cute.
13. What is the first thing you do in the morning?
Try to navigate our narrow, steep stairs to get my daughter without falling on my head. Then I usually make coffee. Though I'm now a morning person, I still don't wake up quickly.
14. What was the first concert you ever went to?
Amy Grant - the "Unguarded" tour. 4th grade. How sad is it that I thought an Amy Grant concert was REALLY LOUD?
15. First tattoo or piercing?
I made a deal with myself that I could get a tattoo for every marathon I finished. Unfortunately, I did not make that deal with Beloved. I'll keep you posted. I suppose you could say my first piercing was when I ran my foot into a pitchfork in a feed trough while chasing pigs when I was 13.
16. First celebrity crush?
Hmmm - first that I can remember was Joanne Whalley-Kilmer in Willow. I've always been a sucker for redheads.
17. First crush?
Kelly E. Redhead. Our kindergarten teacher actually called our parents and warned them that we were spending way too much time together. I have a picture in my scrapbook of the two of us holding hands, leading the Halloween parade. I told my family that I was going to marry Kelly and we would have six kids. Beloved just smiles when that story comes up.
18. First TRUE love?
Wow - I really thought I was in love with Kelly. First time I went ass-over-teakettle in love was probably Jody when I was a sophomore in college. What a horror story that one turned out to be - by the time it was all over I could have probably been arrested for stalking. Not pretty at all: I nearly lost a couple of dear friends during the blowback after the breakup.
19. When was your first detention?
Sixth grade. How classic is this - we were making spitwads. I flicked one that landed on Kristen M's desk and she promptly ratted me out. That wasn't quite as dumb as the boys who stole those big silver thumbtacks from the same teacher, stuck them into the soles of their shoes and scraped their way up and down the tile floors of our school hallways. I mean, hello?
20. What is the first big trip you remember taking?
I remember taking a trip to Denver to visit my Aunt Lois, Uncle Gordy & cousin Joe when I was around 12 or so. We had gone to see them in Des Moines several times when I was younger, but never for more than two days or so. We were in Denver for a week, long enough for me to get hurt riding horses at the home of some of my dad's distant family and spend the rest of the trip in a splint on my right arm with busted glasses. I also got lost in Casa Bonita, this huge Mexican restaurant in Denver. But we got to go to Garden of the Gods park, which I thought was the COOLEST place ever - we climbed all over the place out there.
25 March 2007
1. The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. It was suggested to me during seminary by either Mike Rogness or Gracia Grindal, each of whom led courses I took on theology and literature. I've owned it for a few years but haven't read it yet - in my apparently never-ending quest to actually read everything I own, this will be a next step.
2. Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality by Rob Bell. Yup - you read the title correctly. Rob is pastor of a congregation in Grand Rapids, MI and directs the Nooma videos some of you have likely seen floating around the church. My father-in-law picked this up for us at the National Pastors' Conference this January; at the very least it will hopefully make for interesting bedtime reading.
3. Confessing Jesus Christ: Preaching in a Postmodern World by David Lose. Another of my "I own it and have skimmed it but haven't really read it" books. Dr. Lose was my homiletics professor at Luther Seminary and is now Dean of Academics there as well. I've always valued his teaching but haven't made time to read his first book - hopefully by the end of the summer that will be rectified.
Today has been a nightmare for Beloved. Ainsley wailed and screamed for an hour this morning, the one time when I can't tag in to help out. She did the same for a good portion of the afternoon, until we took her to the Meatball Supper at the church for two hours, where she was really pretty good. Then when we brought her back home it was back to being fussy. Makes you wonder if she just doesn't like staying at home.
But, she's finally falling asleep now. We're listening to Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue;" never too early to start her music education, right? Next week it'll be Chet Baker, "My Funny Valentine." And Storyhill - lots and lots of Storyhill. :)
23 March 2007
I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19, NRSV1. Running - I started running seriously during my second year at Luther Seminary, when I was so heavy (270 lbs and a 40-inch waist) that I had to start by running three minutes and walking two. Over time I began to get past worrying that I was going to pass out and to really enjoy going for a run to relieve stress. A year later, running helped me keep a modicum of sanity through divorce and an internship that changed drastically due to my supervisor being called up as an Air Force chaplain following the destruction of the World Trade Center. In the space of that first 18 months of running, I lost 90 lbs and 8 inches off my waist. I'm up a bit from that now, but I ran my first marathon last May and plan to run another this spring. Even though my knees often ache and I've had a tough time keeping energy levels high since Ainsley's birth, I still love to run.As we near the end of the long journey toward Easter, a busy time for pastors and layfolk alike, I ponder the words of Isaiah and the relief and refreshment of a river in the desert.
For this Friday Five, name five practices, activities, people or _____ (feel free to fill in something I may be forgetting) that for you are rivers in the desert.
2. Music - Music has been my constant companion my whole life long. I long ago decided (as if I had any choice) that if I were to lose any of my senses, the one I could least afford to lose would be hearing - how Beethoven managed it is beyond me. I have eclectic tastes; right now I'm running to Celtic & Folk, but I love jazz, rock, classical, even some country (the Dixie Chick's album Taking The Long Way is incredible, for example, and I've already blogged here about my love for all things Statler Brothers). Luther is rumored to have said, "He who sings, prays twice." If it ain't true, it oughta be.
3. Reading - Again, a constant companion that can refresh my soul. For America Reads a few weeks ago, I was invited to read to an 8th grade homeroom by a good friend, so I grabbed my copy of The Hobbit and read a goodly portion of chapter 1. I also brought the books I've read this year; they were impressed. There's nothing better than a free afternoon/evening with good coffee, a good book and good music on the stereo. Well, nothing better that you can do by yourself, that is.
4. Yardwork - With spring arriving here in Minnesota, my seasonal affections are changing. If this were December, I would have said Baking, but it's soon time to get the mower & rake & potting soil ready for another year. I'm starting a garden this year and very excited to see if we can actually grow edible food. Homemade salsa, anyone?
5. Family Time - Last night, Beloved and I got Ainsley down in her crib at the end of Grey's Anatomy, then we watched the tape of Wednesday's Survivor episode. But the best part of the day, for me, was the ten minutes of conversation we had in bed before we went to sleep. I'm amazed that I can still enjoy talking with my wife after being together, both dating and marriage, over four years. I love planning things around "our family" instead of just my own schedule. Perhaps the source of my joy is the delayed gratification aspect: I wanted to be a parent as early as possible, but had to wait until I was 32. Regardless, Family Time, no matter how it happens, is a source of great joy for both of us - even on days like today, when AJ was an absolute pill at the office and I was forced to bring her home. We're together; that's the important thing.
PS: In regard to great music, I want to plug Marc Gunn's Irish & Celtic Music Podcast and his latest compilation album, "Victims of Irish Music." Marc promotes small, mostly independent artists and has an interesting biweekly podcast. You'll find a link under the "Music Links" section on the right. And, as always, you can't go wrong with Storyhill or The Wild Clover Band!
Aaand then there's this one from day care. Yeah, I don't understand the hat, either. But Beloved insists it's cute. Hokay...
21 March 2007
Today (Wednesday) Ainsley is two months old! She went to the doctor to get shots as a way of celebrating. That was great. But Ainsley is 11lbs 11oz., 23.5 inches long and very, very healthy. Her measurements put her in the 50-75th percentile for growth, making her above average. And that's the news from Lake Wobegon. :-)
20 March 2007
... wha? ... time for what? ... oh, okay: Ainsley is squirming and it might be time for a feeding ... okay, have fun, honey ... oh, you want ME to feed her ... okay ... *yawn* ... all right, all right, I'm up ...
Okay, Ainsley's squirming again: it's up and at 'em for Super Daddy! So we start the day with the usual: 4oz breast milk for baby, 8oz coffee for Dad. And a banana.
I've gotten Ainsley fed, changed, dressed, mopped up from spit-up, dressed again and into the car seat. Beloved is off to teach water aerobics and AJ goes without much struggle. Now it's upstairs with a bowl of Raisin Bran to do a quick blog, check e-mail and other computer stuff.
Oh. My. Stars. That. Hurts. I was going to run this morning, but all of a sudden my neck has decided to lock up on me. I seriously cannot turn my head to the right without shooting pain. I feel like my friend Nate's cat, Kitty Crooked Head. This really is going to put a kink in the day (pun definitely intended).
Thanks to Jan's excellent link to a Washington Post article on knots, I'm now running a titch behind. Quick shower (neck still hurts even after five minutes under the shower massager) and even quicker decision to save a few minutes and go without a shave today. Coffee mug & nalgene bottle filled, mail ready for the post office, I'm out the door by 9:30.
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
At the office doing pastor stuff. Phone calls, email, worship planning, sorting the mail, scheduling visits, checking stuff on my computer. The quilters are here today, but I skip coffee with them to keep up on the momentum. My neck still hurts, so I decide to go home and apply the heating pad while reading Christian Century. When I mention this to the quilters they remind me what a cushy job I have. Don't I know it - but I'm still going home for lunch and a neck treatment.
12:30 - 1:30
A quick lunch & an hour on the easy chair with a heating pad & Christian Century allow me to move just a little bit better. For now. Started reading the Borg & Crossan article on Jesus' last week but it was just a bit too thick for a day when I'm distracted by my body. Maybe tomorrow afternoon?
Upstairs doing sermon prep via my Bible and Textweek.com. Some nice stuff to read, both for the Isaiah passage and the gospel reading from John. I've never preached on this particular Gospel reading before - at least, I don't think I have, since there are neither notes nor manuscript in my file from three years ago. So this will be interesting. Thinking of going with "Dinner on the Devil's Doorstep" as a sermon title.
Hymn planning meeting back at the church. Neck hurts again, but it's survivable. We only get Holy Week and the 2nd Sunday of Easter planned before Organist's piano lesson kids show up. But it's a lot to plan in one hour - we can get the rest of April next week.
Back home, change into shorts and running shoes for a quick 3 miles on the treadmill. Nice easy workout on account of my aching neck - just a 10:00/mile pace, some grade changes during commercials of last night's "How I Met Your Mother." The last scene of the show is a riot, but not suitable for blogging here, unfortunately.
Supper and dishes. I also fold/hang up the basket of clean laundry, wipe down the counters, put away the junk on the coffee table and leave a note for Beloved to watch HIMYM when she gets home. "I can bring home the bacon / fry it up in a pan..."
6:00 - 8:00
Prepare and deliver tonight's Genesis to Revelation class, with Power Point downloaded from Dr. Craig Koester at Luther Seminary. We work through the basics of Ezekiel and do a quick survey of God and Suffering in the Old Testament, leaving Job for next week (and possibly following weeks as well). I'd forgotten what a crazy visionary Ezekiel was; trying to distill it down into a one hour discussion group leaves a lot out. But it's a survey course and hopefully no one felt cheated.
8:00 - 10:00
Come home for the night to find Beloved & Ainsley already home. I get Ainsley into her PJs, give her a bottle, give her ANOTHER when she won't stop squirming, then finally get her sleeping and into the bassinette. Beloved and I watch "24" from last night while I savor a nice Schell Caramel Bock. Hopefully the alcohol will take the edge off of my still-aching neck.
This has been such a great day that I think I'll blog about it. Now I've done so. Now it's off to bed, where I'll read a chapter or two of The Brothers Karamazov until I fall asleep.
Also, Jan E from A Church for Starving Artists linked to this cool article on knots from the Washington Post. Beloved commented the other day that my blogroll includes many friends she doesn't know; I had to remind her that I haven't met many of you either. But links to cool stuff like this is one of the many things I've really come to enjoy about being a blogger.
19 March 2007
We were so excited to meet Baby Noah! But we were also thankful - Noah was as big at birth as Ainsley was at 1 month. Beloved was a bit more thankful than I was, as you can imagine. But isn't he a cutie?
Gosh, a guy could get used to having all these babies around...
18 March 2007
These are your words, Lord. Your word is truth. Lead us into the truth. Amen
 2nd Corinthians 5.17, 19-20a. The [bracketed] pronouns have been changed from “their” and “them” to [our] and [us] to more fully emphasize the reconciliation we all experience in Christ.
17 March 2007
It's been a nice weekend here in Barrett - the weather is cool but not cold, and even though I was pretty productive at the office this week, I've had some time this afternoon to catch up on work at home before Beloved and I have our first date since Ainsley was born (well, okay, we did go out to dinner once, but this will be far from home and for several hours).
Since I'm a few days behind on pics I'll catch up two at a time. Yesterday afternoon we had the NCAA Tournament on while doing some stuff 'round the house. Ainsley, being her father's daughter, got sucked into the action:
Today Momma & Ainsley headed out for a nice walk while I stayed home to peruse the Saturday paper. Off we go!
16 March 2007
Well friends, this is one of those weeks when I simply must work today, which is normally my day off. I know, I know. We may tut-tut all we want, but the fact is, some weeks are like that. So, this week's F5 is simple.I should preface this by saying that my 'have to' items are things I generally enjoy as well. I'm one of the lucky few who have found a vocation that gives me great joy more days than not. So pre-marriage counseling is a pleasure for me, as is writing a sermon. Well, most weeks, anyway.
Name five things you plan to do today.
Bonus: If today is about "have-to" for you as well, share up to five things you'd like to be doing today.
Five Things I Plan To Do Today: (completed items marked with a [check]
1. Write Sunday's sermon.
2. Meet with a couple to begin their pre-marriage counseling. [check]
3. Take out the recycling and trash.
4. Visit a friend and her new baby boy.
5. Help our Property Manager install the new changing table for our Men's Room. [check]
Five Things I'd Like To Do Today:
1. Run 5 miles in 45:00, with energy in my legs. (I'll run today, but my legs just don't have any juice right now thanks to lack of sleep)
2. Curl up in my grandpa's recliner upstairs with a book and a cup of hot chocolate (I might actually get to this one if I'm lucky).
3. Sleep (probably not going to get to this one).
4. Write the Great American Novel (hey, why not dream big?).
5. Eat pizza, a Coldstone Creamery ice cream treat, drink a pint or two of a good dark beer and not gain an ounce (see above).
Late note: I didn't get my 5 miles in 45 yesterday, but I did get them in 47; best run in weeks. And I did eat the pizza & drink the beer; with no Coldstone, maybe the calories at least balanced?
15 March 2007
Besides being a great comedy, this quote from How I Met Your Mother is, well, technically correct. For all the shoes, gear, nutrition and other issues dedicated runners juggle, the sport itself is really quite simple. Start running. That's it.
I was reminded of this last night when Sweetie, LH's better half, emailed me, worried that I wouldn't be able to run the Lincoln Marathon due to my knees, which are on notice. I reassured her that yes, I was still planning to run (I've already registered, actually, so if I don't run I waste the $50). No, I probably won't meet my goal time of four hours or less, due to the complete lack of good sleep AJ is forcing on us. But Beloved told me the other night that I'll have so much fun hanging out with old friends and visiting old haunts that it won't matter how well I run. And do you know what? She's probably right.
So, I'll start running. 26.2 miles later, I'll stop. And it'll all be okay. Boston can wait, right?
14 March 2007
Today, my feelings have changed. I no longer trust Focus on the Family or Dr. Dobson, especially when it comes to raising my own children or commenting on parenting in the 21st century. Why? Because I get the feeling that Dr. Dobson is far more concerned with protecting his empire than actually protecting children these days. From the FotF bunker in Colorado, Dr. Dobson issues statements with all the authority of Pope Leo X, and all the effectiveness as well. From commentary on who will be the best president to demanding the resignation of a lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals, Dr. Dobson's tirades are growing tiresome and, I believe, more and more separated from the real world.
Jim Wallis and Brian McLaren have both written excellent commentary on Dobson's latest. For myself, I'm far more worried about the world Dr. Dobson would create than the straw men Focus on the Family has been setting up over the past few years. Methinks its time for a new focus.
12 March 2007
11 March 2007
2. Mud - I can't run in it. I can't get it off my shoes. I can't keep it out of my house. I can't get it off my car. I HATE March weather.
3. My Knees - They suck. I got five miles in yesterday and had to quit because of severe pain. At this rate I don't know if I'll be able to finish the marathon in May. Thanks, Mom.
4. Minnesota Sports - T-Wolves? Suck. Gopher basketball? Suck. Gopher football? Suck. Vikings? Suck. Wild? Hockey. Twins? Trying to build a stadium and getting held up by a bunch of farmers holding their downtown lot until it screams. What's to like?
5. Share-It-Alls - Shut up. At some point, your ignorance is just going to reach critical mass and I'm going to friggin explode. Not every situation or item on an agenda needs your ill-informed and conjectural comment.
6. CNN - I'll start watching again when you stop looking so much like "Inside Edition" or "Access Hollywood." Seriously, weren't you once "the most trusted name in news?"
7. "Relevant" - If you're trying to be "relevant" you're trying to be something you're not. Stop it. Now.
8. "Contemporary" Worship - ALL WORSHIP IS CONTEMPORARY. If you don't like organs, that's fine, but unless the organist is playing in a time warp, that worship is "contemporary" as well.
Ahhh - that feels better.
There’s an old joke about two campers out in the woods who startle a bear and wind up on the run with the bear in hot pursuit. One camper screams to the other one, “Do you think you really think you can run faster than a bear?” The other camper screams back, “No! – I just have to run faster than you!”
1) Life is unpredictable and does not always follow cause and effect the way we think it should.
2) We are just as bound to sin as our neighbor because the standard is God’s law, not our neighbor’s sin.
Our fear of these two facts lead us right back to the false assumption that keeping ahead of the scandals can keep us ahead of the game itself. Because we are afraid, we surround ourselves with the right kind of people: folks who have it all together, who know that if you do right, you’ll be right. And so we go on protecting ourselves by ostracizing the wrong sorts of people and the unlucky and the sinners until we’ve created our own little kingdom where goodness thrives because we eliminate anyone or anything that shows the slightest bit of bad luck, trouble or sin. And we make our peace with this by telling ourselves that it was our neighbors’ sins that put them out of the group. We confess that our neighbors are in bondage to sin and cannot free themselves – but that’s not our problem.
“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?”
The dangerous confession of the sins of others is the spiritual equivalent of cotton candy laced with asbestos: sweet to the taste, but completely unfulfilling, and poisonous to boot. There is no way to climb to heaven on the shoulders of the sinners around you – Jesus won’t have it that way. The cross was the end of humanity’s attempt to justify itself. We killed the innocent Son of God because we could not stand the thought of God being merciful to sinners. The cross with which we are marked at baptism marks us with the death of Jesus as well as his resurrection, so that we will be saved in his name alone.
“While Jesus does not honor their illusion that they can protect themselves in this way, he does seem to honor the vulnerability that their fright has opened up in them. It is not a bad thing for them to feel the full fragility of their lives. It is not a bad thing for them to count their breaths in the dark -- not if it makes them turn toward the light.”
 Brown Taylor, Barbara. Quoted from http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=641
10 March 2007
Great - she's six weeks old and already she's a two-fisted drinker. No wonder she can't focus her eyes after she's done feeding...
This is what I do Saturday mornings instead of reading the paper these days. Today I finished the Saturday Star Tribune at 7:45 - PM.
09 March 2007
My mother loved figs.
I only like them in a Newton.
It's all a matter of taste.
Name five things you like a lot that some close relative or significant other did/does not like. This could be food, movies, hobbies, music, sports or whatever springs to mind.
Wow - this one will be fun!
1. The Statler Brothers. My brother and I both share this taste difference with our spouses. Granted, we grew up with parents who also loved the Statler Brothers, but hey, it's still great music! When we were young (me around 6, Brian around 4) we went to a Statler Brothers concert at the Nebraska State Fair. Apparently we were the remote feed for our nosebleed section seats; my mother says we stood on our benches and sang every song, word for word, with Harold, Phil, Don & Lew. In a moment of great schadenfreude last year, I gave my brother a cd 0f Statler Brothers tunes I downloaded from iTunes. For his car ride back home. A six-hour ride. With his Statler Brothers-hating wife. Ahhh - good times...
2. Moxie This one is a bit of a reverse from the suggested format. My good friend LutheranHusker loves the stuff - I can't stand it. Read his blogging about Moxie here.
3. Reading I was the kid from whom teachers reluctantly removed books because I would read instead of doing math/social studies/etc. I've always been a voracious reader, and to this day I can't go to sleep without reading unless I'm absolutely wiped out. Beloved, however, isn't a reader. Matter of fact, she's severely dyslexic, so reading is a chore for her. It's been interesting living with someone who has no idea how I can be happy with a book, a cup of coffee and a free afternoon.
4. "The Mask" I've always liked this movie. I think it's a fun little flick that plays right into Jim Carrey's physical comedy skills without going completely over the top (i.e. Ace Ventura or Me, Myself & Irene). Cameron Diaz is, well, pretty easy on the eyes, too. But my ex-wife hated this movie, and I've yet to meet anyone who enjoys it as much as I do.
Exhibit A: George Carlin. I love George Carlin. I think he's a brilliant social commentator in addition to being pretty freakin' funny. My dad thinks he's the worst comedian ever. If I ever want to make him grimace, all I have to do is say, "Hippy-dippy Weather Man." It's awesome.
Exhibit B: Gallagher. I don't get Gallagher. I suppose this one doesn't count because I don't know anyone who does, but the guy's still selling tickets, so someone must think he's funny, right?
Exhibit C: Richard Pryor. I don't get Richard Pryor, either, but I know folks who do.
Exhibit D: Garrison Keillor. LutheranHusker & I love A Prairie Home Companion. Beloved is indifferent, while Sweetie (LutheranHusker's better half) can't stand a second of it. Maybe it's because she grew up Missouri Synod? They don't have much of a sense of humor, you know. :-)
07 March 2007
06 March 2007
These are your words, Lord. Your word is truth. Lead us into the truth. Amen.
Question 2: share with another neighbor about a time in your life when you had to trust that something was going to be okay, even though you were really anxious about it. How did things turn out? Did you survive that experience, or is it still haunting you?
And Abram’s story of trust and anxiety doesn’t end in Genesis 12. In our reading today from Genesis 15, Abram confronts God with this fact: Abram has no heir to his flocks and possessions, and the great blessings God had promised Abram would go to a slave if Abram were to die at that moment. In Abram’s time, your legacy after your death came through your children; with no children, Abram and Sarai’s legacy would be poor at best.
The story of Abram & Sarai goes through many more twists and turns before their lives are spent. They changed their names: “Abram,” meaning “he is exalted,” became “Abraham,” meaning “Father of a multitude.” Sarai also changed her name to Sarah, bearing evidence that God’s covenant will indeed change the both of them. They tried to take the matter of an heir into their own hands by way of a slave bearing a son, Ishmael, to Abraham. They were promised a legitimate heir, and when Sarah laughed at the thought of becoming pregnant at age 90, God instructed them to name the child “Isaac,” meaning “She laughs.” Abraham & Sarah lived long lives and only began to see the blessings God promised to them, but their whole story is marked by anxiety and trust: anxiety because they didn’t understand the situations in which they often found themselves, and trust that somehow God would accomplish God’s goals, even when Abraham and Sarah got in the way by attempting to protect God and themselves by their own deeds.
Come forward in time, then, around 2,000 years. Jesus has been preaching teaching throughout Galilee on his way to Jerusalem. He was beginning to develop a great following: people came to be healed by his touch, to learn from his wisdom and to be his disciples. Even some of the Pharisees were amazed and intrigued by this roaming teacher from Nazareth. So when those Pharisees heard that Herod was seeking to kill Jesus, they grew anxious. “Jesus, get out of here,” they said. “Protect yourself,” they said. “Take the safe road,” they said. These Pharisees knew that Jesus was some kind of great blessing from God, but they weren’t confident that God would protect their blessing. So they warned Jesus to try and protect him – even though Jesus knew that protection and safety wasn’t where he was going.
It’s not an easy thing, to trust when you’re anxious. In fact, we’re not very good at it. The thing is, neither was Abraham, or any of the Old Testament heroes, for that matter. Abraham’s greatest mistakes were made when he didn’t have faith in God’s promises and tried to guarantee his own safety and security by himself. When King Saul was focused on God’s word, he was a good king, but when Saul tried to improve on God’s promises through his own work, he lost God’s favor. King David, Solomon, Moses – all of them are lifted up to us in our childhood as heroes of faith, but in reality they struggled with trust and anxiety as much as anyone else in the Bible. The same goes for Peter, James, John, Matthew, Andrew, Judas and all the other apostles and disciples in the New Testament. They knew that in Jesus they’d found something incredible, but Jesus wasn’t born to be protected; he was born to reveal the kingdom of God, and if I might paraphrase C.S. Lewis here, the kingdom of God “isn’t safe, but it is good.”
In our gospel reading today, Jesus takes the role of a prophet to God’s people. When he cries out, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings,” Jesus is remembering the long history of Jerusalem’s pursuit of safety through other gods. Israel was supposed to be God’s people, but even in the days after God rescued the people of Israel from Egypt, the people’s anxiety kept them from trusting God first for their well-being. The world around them was an uncertain place, but rather than trusting in the certainty of God’s protection, Israel pursued money, political power and other idols to ensure their safety and protection. They did it so often that God was forced to walk out on altogether to remind them that only God can provide what they need – a desperate attempt to regain Israel’s attention and trust by removing their safety and security altogether.
Jesus himself, in today’s gospel reading, became an idol to be protected instead of a Messiah to be worshiped. Imagine that: a people dedicated to God protecting that God too much! But just like Abraham, just like King David, just like the disciples and just like us today, the Pharisees who wanted to protect Jesus didn’t understand that God is not concerned with protection: God is concerned with faith and salvation, and those require risk, vulnerability, and trust in anxious times.
Tonight a television show will be aired on the Discovery Channel. The show will claim that archaeologists have found the tomb of Jesus’ family, that the bones of Christ have been found and the resurrection is a hoax. Some in the church have already begun to protest this show. I’m not so convinced that we need to worry so much about what is going to be said on this show. As a pastor I know put it, “I’m far too concerned with what Christ means to me today to worry about the distant past or the distant future.” Our business is trusting in God in today’s circumstances, living between that trust and the anxiety that surrounds us and can drive us away from our trust in God.
Sometimes our desire for safety and certainty can be opposed to God’s will. When that happens, God’s words to us turn into lament. “
The point of Christian living is not certainty: it is faith. Certainty requires proof before a relationship of any consequence is granted. The walls of certainty may offer protection, but they also prevent any genuine interaction with the rest of the world. Absolute certainty eliminates all vulnerability, and without vulnerability no relationship is ever genuine and no love is ever authentic. Being vulnerable brings about anxiety, for we leave ourselves unprotected, but being vulnerable also allows us to learn to trust one another as real persons who follow Jesus. The point of Christian living is faith, and faith is what happens when we learn to live between trust and anxiety. “The picture [of] faith painted here is one that denies any surety of belief, other than that which comes from the relationship with the One who stands behind the promise. All ultimately depends on the faithfulness of the Lord. This passage does not portray doubt or anxiety as something foreign to the person of faith. Quite the contrary! We see in Abraham one who lives in the tension between trust and anxiety. Faith, which is reckoned to be righteousness, is precisely that.”
May Christ shelter you under His wings and keep you safe, brothers and sisters, and give you the faith you need – the faith to live between trust and anxiety. Amen.
 Wallace, Howard. http://hwallace.unitingchurch.org.au/WebOTcomments/LentC/Lent2.html
05 March 2007
Beloved is going back to work this week, so we will need a babysitter on Wednesday nights when we're both doing Confirmation. Hollie came over to meet Ainsley yesterday afternoon and we thought the occasion deserved a picture.
04 March 2007
Also, last night's moon was incredible. First, a full eclipse which I unfortunately forgot to photograph. But we did notice the beautiful moonlight when we were up with AJ for the 4:00 a.m. feeding. Earlier in the day I had made a snow angel after shoveling the walks again, so I snuck upstairs and snapped these shots I'll call "Angels by Moonlight."