Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour: Turn off those Lights!

Thanks to my friend Gord, who reminded me of Earth Hour, I will be turning off my lights for an hour at 8pm. How about you?

You can join millions of people around the world in making a statement about climate change by turning off your lights for Earth Hour, an event created by the World Wildlife Fund.

Earth Hour was created by WWF in Sydney, Australia in 2007, and in one year has grown from an event in one city to a global movement

One hour, America. Earth Hour. Turn out for Earth Hour!

Just turn off your lights at 8pm, your local time.

Earth Hour

The blog

Nothing said in the local paper however.
Here is the video for viewing:

I think we should be able to find something to do by candlelight.

Easter 2 and Springsteen's song Resurrection

Today as I was looking for a prayer for Sunday, I ran across the words to Bruce Springsteeen's song Resurrection. I thought of Thomas and the disciples behind the closed doors not knowing whether to believe if the resurrection is true or not. I thought of all the people today who struggle with whether the resurrection is true or not. I thought of the times I have struggled with my own doubts and beliefs.

Ever since I was a young man
I've known the devil too well
I can still hear my mama screamin'
"Boy you gonna burn some day in hell"
Drag me to church on Sunday
Head down, head down, head down on your knees and pray
When it comes you won't forget to call

Well I can't say that I'm a believer
I can't say that I ain't
Oh but three words on a piece of paper
It sure ain't gonna make no kind of sense
Drag us to church on a Friday
And we confess our sins
Special old price of three Hail Marys and your soul is clean again

You must believe what we are saying to believe for without belief you are dying
They told me you must believe what we tell you to believe and yours is not to question why
For the sisters never lie
Yours not to know or die
Might as well not even try
Hail, hail resurrection
You'll invited to come and dance on my grave
Oh I'm gonna have a lot of money
I'll say my prayers to the earth and the sunI
'll say my prayers to the earth and the sun
I'll say my prayers to the earth and the sun
I'll say my prayers to the earth and the sun
Hail, hail resurrection
Hail, hail resurrection
Hail, hail resurrection
Hail, hail resurrection
Hail, hail resurrection
Oh won't you come on now
Hail, hail resurrection
Whoa whoa whoa
Hail, hail resurrection
Can't you hear'em coming now
Hail, hail resurrection
I said can't you hear'em coming now
hail resurrection
Hail, hail resurrection
Hail, hail resurrection
Hail, hail resurrection
Hail, hail resurrection

I wondered how many of us were dragged to church, abused by religion, by ministers, by believers, by family, by church members, and now now we don't go at all, don't even want to go, can't make us go? How many does Bruce sing for besides himself?

Forgive us our abuses, for now they don't understand the real meaning of your resurrection. Forgive us our abuses, for now they don't know your love, your grace, your mercy.
Forgive us our abuses, for now the abuse keeps getting passed on from one generation to another.
Forgive us our abuses, for we don't understand the real meaning of your resurrection, your love, your grace, your mercy, we haven't stopped the abuse, and we don't live as Easter People.

Help us live as Easter People. Help us to forgive as you forgive. Help us to stop the abuse. Help us to show others the real meaning of your resurrection. Help us to show them your love, your grace, your mercy.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Five

I am back from Wadley, AL. I did a funeral for one of the longtime members who died of old age on Easter Sunday no less. I loved this lady. She was the chair of the Pastor Parish Committee. I had apparently told her I would have done the funeral when asked, but I did not remember it until the daughter called. It was a sweet funeral. It was good to see some of the members and towns people I had gotten to know. I spent the night as it was a long trip down and a long trip back. I am glad to be home but tired. On the way down there I got a phone call on my cell phone that one of St. John's charter members had died and they wanted me to do the funeral. So now that I am back I'll get ready to do it.

But in the meantime, here is the friday five from revgalblogpals. This time Singing Owl brings A Million Dollar Friday Five to us. Thanks Singing Owl.

Lingering effects of a cold have me watching more television than usual. There appears to be a resurgence of the old daytime staple--the quiz show. Except they are on during prime time, and a great many of them offer the chance of winning one million dollars.I think it started with Regis Philbin and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" but now we have a half dozen or so.My husband and I started musing (after watching "Deal or No Deal") about what we could do with a million dollars. I thought I'd just bring that discussion into the Friday Five this week. It's simple. What are five things you would want to do with a million dollar deposit in your bank account?

Oh my a million dollar deposit in my bank account.

Does fainting count as one of the five things I would do?


1. Tithe first

2. pay off debt

3. save some

4. spend some

5. be a little frivolous as well.

Does getting on my knees and thanking God count?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More thoughts on John 20:19-31

Today lets look at Thomas in this passage.

19-20Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, "Peace to you." Then he showed them his hands and side.
20-21The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: "Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you."
22-23Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. "Receive the Holy Spirit," he said. "If you forgive someone's sins, they're gone for good. If you don't forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?"
24-25But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, "We saw the Master."
But he said, "Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won't believe it."
26Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, "Peace to you."
27Then he focused his attention on Thomas. "Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don't be unbelieving. Believe."
28Thomas said, "My Master! My God!"
29Jesus said, "So, you believe because you've seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing."
30-31Jesus provided far more God-revealing signs than are written down in this book. These are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life in the way he personally revealed it.

Just where was Thomas the first time around? Why wasn't he in the upperroom with the rest? Hiding somewhere else perhaps? Maybe he had heard through the grapevine about Jesus being risen from the dead. Perhaps he had gone back to the tomb to see if it was true and then headed to Galillee. We don't know and can only guess. But we do know it was a week later that they all were together including Thomas. He hadn't met the risen Jesus like the others, and openly expressed his feelings and his doubts. Often when someone dies, we will say "I just can't believe they are dead." We say that right after it happens, and sometimes almost a year or more later. That feeling doesn't go away quickly. So in a way Thomas is expressing normal reactions to an unbelievable situation. What is it like for those when there is no body or when the body is so disfigured or unpresentable for a viewing, what are the family members to do? How do they feel.

I heard my grandad died. He had donated his body to science, and I did not see his body after death, it immediately went to the University of Florida Medical School. I did wonder a lot what happened to him, what he looked like. I wanted to touch him to have a way of saying goodbye. I didn't get it. I had to use my imagination.

Thomas was able to see and touch Jesus. And what happened? Reality set in and he was able to profess Jesus as his Master and God.

Sometimes for people who are grieving, they are not able to move into reality, and stay in the unreality. Sometimes the grief takes over and a person is not able to move through their grief and are stuck in what is called unhealthy grief. Sometimes, the person feels guilty about something they have said or done, or didn't do and that affects the person's ability to grieve in a healthy way. Sometimes, the person is separated, not talked with or has had a negative relationship with the person who died, that also can effect the grief process. We don't know all that was behind how Thomas felt, what he did and said. But scripture leads us to believe he was able to move to a point of reality about Jesus.

How can we help those who are having trouble with their grief?

How can we help those who have not been able to see the body for some reason, grieve?

Grief can effect so many areas of one's life from simple tasks to major tasks to relationships to health, you name it. How can we minister to those in grief?

How can we help the "Thomases" in our life?

How are we like Thomas? What do we need in our lives our own grief?

Tonsillectomy success!

Hi all, and thanks for the prayers and thoughts.

Zach is so much better today, in fact he has gone over the line to comedic, I think its left over from the anesthesia. I would rather have that then him being in pain or sick.

The Doc said the tonsils were absolutely nasty. He said he worked on the adenoids but did not remove them for speech reasons. And the ears were okay. Yea, he will be better and now be able to breathe through his nose.

Mom and dad were tired. Bob is still having allergy problems. I am tired from sleeping with the girls. Originally we had the kids in the same bed sleeping crosswise, but they were playing so much that we had to change that. We put Zach in bed with dad, and I slept between the girls
crosswise. I never found a good position to sleep in and the girls practically slept on me.

The girls were silly at the surgery center. But they were very caring toward their brother. It was too small of a room for all the noise and silliness. And they all were a hit with the staff.

So good to come home. Zach is not happy with eating soft food. Oh well. But this too shall pass.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Missing Easter Post, and Easter bunny

Did you notice I didn't post yesterday on Easter Sunday? I did. I kept thinking I was going to do it, but it never happened.

It was a full, wonderful and fun day.

The kids were great, played a lot, and didn't have too much of a sugar high. They did get candy from some of the members, which is a good thing, because the Easter Bunny slept in at our house. They were beautiful in their new Easter clothes too.

Worship went well. The Easter Tree was beautiful. The music good. Preaching was good.

We even held a blood drive on Sunday. I gave blood after the worship service. It wouldn't have taken so long except they couldn't get the vein in my one arm. After three tries they quit and went to the other arm. Believe it or not I am not too badly bruised. But I was wiped out further than I normally am on Sunday.

I hope your Easter went well, maybe the Easter Bunny showed up at your house though.

We go to Birmingham today to spend the night so we can be at the outpatient surgery center early in the morning for Zach's surgery. He will have a tonsillectomy. The girls are going with us too. Say a prayer for him and for us. Hopefully all will go well.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Holy Saturday

Today is Holy Saturday of Holy Week. On Holy Saturday the Church waits at the Lord's tomb, meditating on his suffering and death. The altar is left bare, the church is stripped of its decorations. All lies in wait. It is a time of silence. Silence as it was that Saturday so long ago. It has been called the "Second Sabbath" after creation. The day is and should be the most calm and quiet day of the entire Church year. Christ lies in the grave. After the great battle He is resting in peace, but upon Him we see the scars of intense suffering...The mortal wounds on His Body remain visible....Jesus' enemies are still furious, attempting to obliterate the very memory of the Lord by lies and slander. Mary and the disciples are grief-stricken, as are we.
Today we remember Christ in the tomb. This day is also called "Black Sabbath". On this day, as in no other, we are invited into the most profound silence of the life of God, whose Son, "of one being with the Father," lay buried in a tomb.

Matthew 27:57As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

The Apostles’ Creed proclaims that Christ was not only “crucified,dead, and buried,” but also that he “descended into hell.”

Acts 2:31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

I Peter 3:18For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:19By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;20Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:and I Peter 4:6For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

Icon of the Epitaphios Thrinos

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Stations of the Cross

Today on Good Friday, one of the things churches do is called The Stations of the Cross.

There are plenty of Stations of the Cross on the internet and at a church nearby. Find one to go to, and take time to go the way of the cross today.

Were You There 2

This video used scenes from the movie The Passion.

Were You There?

Johnny Cash - Were You There

Oh my I couldn't believe how many versions of this song there were on youtube.

Friday Five for Good Friday

RevHRod at RevGalBlogPals brings us the Friday Five: "As a child the designation "good" for today confused me. How could we call such a somber day, good? Holy, yes. Blessed, yes. But, good?

As an adult I understand the meaning of good for this day. It is a solemn day of remembrance but it is also a time for us to stop and recall the great gift of love that we received this day. And that is most certainly good.

Our worship today will differ from place to place. Some services will focus on the great litany of prayers. Others will use the seven last words of Jesus. Some of us will walk the stations of the cross. Others will participate in a Tennebrae service of shadows and light.

I hope that this Friday Five will be a meaningful part of your Good Friday. God's blessings to you on your journey.

1. Our prayer concerns are as varied as we are this day. For whom would you like us to pray? Pray for my mom, today would have been my dad's birthday, and he has been dead for 10 years now.
2. Are there things you have done or will do today to help the young ones understand this important day in our lives? yes, I got little ones that I want them to be able to understand.
3. Music plays an important part in sharing the story of this day. Is there a hymn or piece of music that you have found particularly meaningful to your celebrations of Good Friday? Too many to mention. I will say that I have had the old Spiritual "were You There" rumbling around in my head this week.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?

Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
Oh!Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?

Were you There
4. As you hear the passion narrative, is there a character that you particularly resonate with? The women, in particular Mary Magdalene.
5. Where have you seen the gracious God of love at work lately? On the Emmaus Walk, with my family, and my friends.

Good Friday

Friday of Holy Week has been traditionally been called Good Friday or Holy Friday. The English designation of "Good Friday" is apparently a corruption of "God's Friday," although the term is a very fitting one since the Lord's death was for our eternal good.
On this day, the church commemorates Jesus’ arrest (since by Jewish customs of counting days from sundown to sundown it was already Friday), his trial, crucifixion and suffering, death, and burial. Since services on this day are to observe Jesus’ death, and since Eucharist is a celebration, there is traditionally no Communion observed on Good Friday. Also, depending on how the services are conducted on this day, all pictures, statutes, and the cross are covered in mourning black, the chancel and altar coverings are replaced with black, and altar candles are extinguished. They are left this way through Saturday, but are always replaced with white before sunrise on Sunday.

The Seven Last Words of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel traditions are often recalled as well.
"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)
"Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."(Luke 23:43)
"Woman, behold your son" ... "Behold, your mother!"(John 19:26-27)
"E'lo-i, E'lo-i, la'ma sabach-tha'ni?" which means, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34)
"I thirst." (John 19:28)
"It is finished!" (John 19:30)
"Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!" (Luke 23:46)

Simply put in Mark 15:24. "And they crucified him." Jesus is believed to have died on the cross at 3 o'clock in the afternoon of Good Friday

At the Name of Jesus, every knee should bend
for the Lord became obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.
Philippians 2:10,8

And so today, on a day that is so beautiful outside, it becomes hard to get into the mood for remembering the events of Jesus' crucifixion. I find it hard to want to get into it at all, and yet it is at the very heart of what I believe and live as follower of Jesus.

Father forgive me...,forgive us....I am to forgive others as you have forgiven me,
70x7. Have I forgiven as you have forgiven me?

Jesus told the thief on the other cross that he would be in paradise with him today.
Lord, I too am a thief, will you forgive me and will I be in paradise with you also?
I know I have done wrong over and over again, but not you, you don't deserve this death, I do.

I am woman, I am to behold my son, my son in each one of you. We are all family in more ways than we realize. Do I behold you as my son? Do I behold you as Jesus?

Jesus, I feel so sad that you felt forsaken on the cross, and that you were forsaken by your followers. I have at times forsaken you too. It is so easy to give into the temptation to do so before I know it. There have been times I felt forsaken by God or that God was silent or not present, but God has not forsaken me. I can't imagine what it was like for you on the cross to feel the way you did and to cry out to God, "why have you forsaken me?"

Your thirst makes your death so real. And that they gave you a sponge soaked in vinegar, makes it all the more real. I thirst, and I drink water, tea, carbonated drinks. There was a time in my life I drank alcohol, too much, trying to numb my feelings. It is so powerful that not that long ago in your life Jesus you met the woman at the well and offered her living water that she would never thirst again. You thristed so that all may have that living water. May I too have your living water that I may never thirst again.

It is finished. Is it really? Is that all there is to the story. No more. No more parables to be told, healings to be done, miracles to be made, no more lessons for the disciples or the pharisee? Oh God it can't be, but you say, it is finished. We were just getting to know you.It can be over not yet.

Father into your hands I commit my spirit just as Jesus did his. I know no other one to commit my spirit too. Will you recieve me too?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Maundy Thursday/Holy Thursday

Today is Maundy Thursday of Holy Week

The Thursday of the Holy Week is associated with the Last Supper. The day is known as Maundy Thursday, or, Holy Thursday. It is the day before crucifixion. “Maundy” is a modernization of the Middle English maunde, which comes into English (via French) from the Latin mandatum, a “charge, commission or command.” On strictly linguistic grounds, the command is found in verse 34 (“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another”).

I'll be using tonight John 13:1-17, 31b-35 for the scriptures.
1It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.[a]
2The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"

7Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

8"No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet."
Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."

9"Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"

10Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." 11For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

31When he was gone, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. 32If God is glorified in him,[c] God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
33"My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

34"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

“Do you realize what I have done for you?” No, I don't think I do, I am just like Peter.

Do we have to love the "Judases" of our group also? Yes.

I am not so sure about this foot washing thing that Jesus does, do we have to do it too? Yes, Jesus said: "you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow,so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

You've got to be joking, just whose dirty feet do I have to wash anyway? Each other's feet.

Jesus, you are scaring me. Your humility is overwhelming me, I should be serving you, washing your feet.

Picture from church powerpoint

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spy Wednesday of Holy Work

Perhaps today's question would be how much would we sell Jesus for? Jesus does not always say or do what we like either. His agenda is not always what we think it should be. But you know what there are sure lots of ways to betray Jesus and to betray ourselves, and we need to be on watch for those.

Picture from Jon Holato's blogOn the Wednesday the tempo of the Holy Week increases. This is the day widely known as "Spy Wednesday". For it is the day when Judas Iscariot, a disciple turned betrayer agreed to show the chief priests where they could easily capture Jesus.

Matthew 26:3-5, 14-16 14Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15and asked, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. 16From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

If we believe that Jesus knew all along what was going to happen, and if we believe that Judas was a mere puppet having to take his allotted role because he was part of the great plan laid down in Scripture, then I fear there can be no hope for us. This would mean that we are programmed, controlled, without freedom to grow or develop. It would also mean that we are quite beyond each other’s reach, unable to choose intimacy or separation, closeness or distance, love or indifference … So Jesus leaves the upper room and goes out into the night, his heart breaking for Judas and weighted down with sorrow at the apparent indifference of the others to Judas’ plight. It was as if they had been paralysed by the apparent powerlessness of his own love: if Jesus could not keep Judas within their company, what hope had they? For Jesus, I suggest it must have felt very different. Why was it, he must have asked himself, that nobody, not even John whom he loved so dearly, had been able to say to Judas: ‘We love you, you are one of us: where are you going? what are you intending to do?’ Why was it that not one of them had seen that Jesus’ impotent love needed the expression of theirs to regain its power? Why had they not been able to see that being truly human is impossible on your own?

Brian Thorne

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday of Holy Week

The Tuesday of the Holy Week is the day when the famous incident between Jesus and Pharisees is thought to have taken place. This was when they tried to trap Jesus into making a blasphemous, or, anti-god remark.

This day is important also on another count; Jesus discoursed to his disciples on the Mount of Olives about the destruction of Jerusalem and the signs of the last day.

Mark 11:27They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. 28"By what authority are you doing these things?" they asked. "And who gave you authority to do this?"

29Jesus replied, "I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30John's baptism—was it from heaven, or from men? Tell me!"

31They discussed it among themselves and said, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Then why didn't you believe him?' 32But if we say, 'From men'...." (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.)

33So they answered Jesus, "We don't know."
Jesus said, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things."

Perhaps the question today for me is how do I try to trap Jesus? Try to make him say what I want him to say? How do I put him in a box so I can do away with him, and live the life I want to lead the way I want to do it? What would happen if I quit being like the Pharisees and accept Jesus for Jesus?

Icon is The Holy Face (The Vernicle) from the First Half of the 13th cen.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday of Holy Week

Picture at Flickr posted by Godly Women of Art

The scripture that is usually read on this day is about Jesus being anointed by the unnamed woman.

Mark 14:1-10 It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; 2for they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.” 3While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. 4But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? 5For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. 7For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. 8She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. 9Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” NRSV

This is an awesome event. It is also in Matthew 26:6-13, Luke 7:36-50, and John 12:1-8. For one thing it is a precursor to Christ's death. He is eating dinner at Simon the leper. Lepers were ostracized people in Jesus’ day. It was amazing that Jesus was at the house of a leper. People were not to come into contact with lepers. In this version of the story, Jesus was having dinner with “one of them. Oh my, Jesus could be found with just about anyone, and he loved dinner invitations. Well not only is he at the home of one of the ostrasized, but a woman breaks in with her own agenda of a gathering of women. How dare she. And Jesus didn't even stop her. Not only that she pours this expensive oil on him, and he still doesn't stop her. Judas knew he should have stopped her, after all that money could have been used for something worthwhile, like helping the poor or at least Judas uses that excuse.
The woman wastes a whole alabaster bottle of the expensive oil on Jesus. When was the last time we wasted something on Jesus? When was the last time we did something for Jesus that got called a waste? When was it last that we did something extravagant for Jesus? When have we been poured out on Jesus? Have we been able to stop worrying about the money to instead love Jesus?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday

This image is from Christian Art Icons, Murals and Mosaics

Today as we were getting ready in the sanctuary for the waving of the palm branches, the kids came up to ask me a question. Kate asked me; "is the real Jesus or the fake Jesus coming today to church?"

So did the real Jesus or the fake Jesus show up at your church today?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Palm Sunday is coming, are you ready?

Palm Sunday Collage
set to the music of Chris Tomlin's "All Bow Down"

Palm Sunday is coming, Are you ready?
Are you ready for Jesus to come into your world? Your life?
He doesn't come in like an army, blowing you away, he comes in just as he did that day in Jerusalem long ago, riding on a donkey.
He comes bringing you his grace and mercy and love?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Five: Time for Palms

Peace on Earth by U2- Palm Sunday
I am playing the Friday Five from revgalblogpals. I already did this once but Blogger eliminated the whole post. Don't know what happened.

I am back for the midweek Walk to Emmaus and need a little fun, play time. So here goes.

Mother Laura brings us the Friday five: Can you believe Daylight Savings Time is here already? It's hard to get used to the new, earlier onset. My family has been getting up and out a little late and a little sleepy in the mornings.

And can you believe that in two days it will be Palm Sunday for Western Christians? Our Lent is almost over, while our Orthodox sisters and brothers, whose liturgical year follows the older Julian calendar, are just starting theirs. Nicholas did a recent book report on George Washington, and we were surprised to find out that our first President's birthday was originally Feb. 11, since he was born just before the change to the Gregorian calendar. Apparently the change almost caused rioting, as some indignant people were sure that they were being cheated out of eleven days of their lives!

To help you adjust--and enjoy the process--here's a Friday Five about time and transitions....

1. If you could travel to any historical time period, which would it be, and why?

Don't know that I really want to go back, why would I, women were treated less than humane.

2. What futuristic/science fiction development would you most like to see?
I would like to see what they come up with to develop our natural resources.

3. Which do you enjoy more: remembering the past, or dreaming for the future?
Living in the moment.

4. What do you find most memorable about this year's Lent? I would have to say it was the Walk to Emmaus.

5. How will you spend your time during this upcoming Holy Week? What part do you look forward to most?
It will be a busy week with my children's activities and church activities.

Bonus: What will you do when the week is over? Get some rest.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

De Colores

Oh wow, God is awesome and at work on this midweek walk.
My talk went well, and God spoke to a lot of the pilgrims through the talk. It was about 20 to 25 minutes long. In fact all the talks have been good. I am just tired from the lack of sleep, but charged up from the Holy Spirit.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Gone for the Walk to Emmaus.

I am gone for the next few days to Camp Sumatanga. I am an assistant Spiritual Director for a Walk to Emmaus. This is a spiritual renewal program intended to strengthen the local church through the development of Christian disciples and leaders. The program's approach seriously considers the model of Christ's servanthood and encourages Christ's disciples to act in ways appropriate to being "a servant of all." The Walk to Emmaus experience begins with a 72-hour short course in Christianity, comprised of fifteen talks by lay and clergy on the themes of God's grace, disciplines of Christian discipleship, and what it means to be the church.

If you want to know more, here is the link to the Walk to Emmaus website. You can find out if there is an Emmaus community in your area. You don't have to be Methodist to go to Emmaus.
My own walk was with the Living Waters Community. I have worked walks for them. This walk I am working is for the Alabama Community.

I am looking forward to it, but a bit antsy, this is the first time I have done the talk I am going to do. Please pray for a calmness of spirit, strength and energy, and wisdom during this week. I'll be speaking Tuesday at about 4pm. I do love Camp Sumatanga and it is always restful and renewing.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Landscape of religion, it's a changing.....

If you happen to miss the news item on the survey done by the Pew Charitable Trust on the changing landscape of religion; you might want to click the link and go there to read it.
Based on interviews with more than 35,000 Americans age 18 and older, the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey finds that religious affiliation in the U.S. is both very diverse and extremely fluid.

More than one-quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion - or no religion at all.

44% of adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether.

The survey finds that the number of people who say they are unaffiliated with any particular faith today (16.1%) is more than double the number who say they were not affiliated with any particular religion as children. Among Americans ages 18-29, one-in-four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion.

It confirms that the United States is on the verge of becoming a minority Protestant country; the number of Americans who report that they are members of Protestant denominations now stands at barely 51%. Moreover, the Protestant population is characterized by significant internal diversity and fragmentation, encompassing hundreds of different denominations loosely grouped around three fairly distinct religious traditions - evangelical Protestant churches (26.3% of the overall adult population), mainline Protestant churches (18.1%) and historically black Protestant churches (6.9%). It also says that the Catholics have had the biggest net losses.

This link takes you to the full report. Also view the report's online section, which includes dynamic tools that complement the full report.

"Among Americans ages 18-29, one-in-four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion." This should be a big concern to all of us. We need to be doing all we can to reach out to all ages to share the good news. Our conference has made it one its four priorities to empower a new generation of Christians and for our church. When we wrote our Charge Conference reports, we had to answer what we were doing in the four areas. Our church had started a Sunday school class for young adults. The teacher has done a lot of contacting of this age group, and inviting them. But very few have come. The teacher has not given up on inviting them.

There are several books out that address this matter of why young people won't come to church and some things that we can be doing to reach out to them. Dan Kimball wrote the book "They like Jesus, but not the church"with complimentary study materials recently published. The book I am reading recently is called UnChristian which is about what this generation really wants, our DS suggested it. I am also reading Dear Church: Letters from a Disillusioned Generation by Sarah Cunningham.

Why am I reading these books? Because I realize I am way older than this generation. I was raised in the church, and have spent most of my life in the church, although for some periods I have rebelled against the church. I have become aware that most of my time is spent in church or with church people. I am so out of tune with this generation and their needs. I may not be the person called to reach this age group, but that doesn't mean I don't do my part to learn and try to connect. And it doesn't mean I forget the other age groups either. This age group may not come to church now, but maybe we are planting the seeds of faith in their hearts, and they will come when they are older. But there is no guarantee of that, and we as a church need to be opening our doors, our hearts, our lives to this age group as well. But this is not the only generation that is lost or disillusioned or hurt by the church. I find myself on a learning curve and having to work hard at this. I told someone I felt like I was back in school, back in seminary learing all new things, a new language and a new way of being.

How about you? What are you finding that works? What is your church doing? What is some of your understanding of this study? How will you introduce this and implement this in your church?

Monday, March 03, 2008

New Statistics on Church Attendance and Avoidance

Well Barna has released their latest stats on church attendance and avoidance. There are nearly 100 million unchurched people in the U.S. They have discovered that the old ways of measuring these figures are no longer applicable. So they have come up with some newer measures:
According to Barna, one way of examining people's participation in faith communities is by exploring how they practice their corporate faith engagement. Unveiling a new measurement model, Barna identified the following five segments:
Unattached - people who had attended neither a conventional church nor an organic faith community (e.g., house church, simple church, intentional community) during the past year. This segment represents one out of every four adults (23%) in America.

Intermittents - these adults are essentially "under-churched" - i.e., people who have participated in either a conventional church or an organic faith community within the past year, but not during the past month. Such people constitute about one out of every seven adults (15%).

Homebodies - people who had not attended a conventional church during the past month, but had attended a meeting of a house church (3%).

Blenders - adults who had attended both a conventional church and a house church during the past month. Blenders represent 3% of the adult population.

Conventionals - adults who had attended a conventional church (i.e., a congregational-style, local church) during the past month but had not attended a house church. Almost three out of every five adults (56%) fit this description.

Barna goes on to discuss the unattached and how to connect with them.

He calls them a unique profile and has this further to add: Six out of ten adults in the Unattached category (59%) consider themselves to be Christian. Even more surprising was the revelation that 17% of the Unattached are born again Christians - defined as people who have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that they consider to be very important in their life, and who believe that they will experience Heaven after they die because they have confessed their sins and accepted Christ as their savior.

Check it out, its worth the read, and may help in your ministry efforts. There are a lot of people in the unattached category that are more likely to feel stressed out, less likely to be concerned about the moral condition of the nation, much less likely to believe that they are making a positive difference in the world and less optimistic about the future. Sounds like they are a people who are in need of hope, real hope, not false hope, not just false optimism and not just false pollyanna attitudes. We don't need more stealing of sheep from other churches and denominations. We need to be connecting with those who are unattached and finding the ways to do it, which may not be the normal traditional ways.