Saturday, October 23, 2004

Cat on My Lap Saturday Night

I've just finished the bulletin for tomorrow's worship service. It's late for me to be finalizing worship plans. I have Rusty the greatest Old Man Cat on my lap and we are both relaxing and hoping for an early bedtime.
I put off finishing worship this week because I had to go to Laurel on Thursday for Presbytery, then leave again Friday morning for Jackson. Presbytery was a mixed bag. The Laurel church is lovely and has the best pipe organ I know of in this state. Two members of the choir sang the worship music along with the church's organist. All three are so very gifted. The preacher for the day's meeting was difficult to hear. His style is to move around in the pulpit and the pulpit microphone is not omnidirectional. I heard about every third word. He looked happy. I just don't know about what.
Friday night I taught a Course of Study for the UMC's laypastor program on the history of reformed theology. The preparation for this drove me nuts as I received my prep materials in little dribbles and only received the textbooks (I had copies of pertinent chapters) the morning I left to drive to Jackson. The students were alert and welcoming which I didn't quite expect as they are tent-makers often with 3 or 4 point charges and I am not UMC. We plowed through the material with as much humor and verve as I could muster. I'm delighted to teach about reformed theology, it's just a complex topic to burst into with people with little or no theological background. We finished about 12:30 pm. today. I rushed to my car and began the boring journey back home.
A busy week and I am tired. BTW, no one knows of my blog and I don't seem to have the title or keywords to attract visitors. This is a goofy online private journal. That's fine with me. And, I'm feeling slow that I cannot figure out how to do the hyperlink thingie so you can read what I'm reading on blogs and on the 'net.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Waiting for the Election

There are less than two weeks before the Presidential election. The waiting gets on my nerves. Further nerve damage is anticipated as I wait to see what the Republicans will do in the final days. I remember Lee Atwater, I remember the Iran hostage last minute boogie, I am tensed for another meanness to occur. In the NYT online today, there is an advertisment showing President Bush comforting a young girl. The text says something like, "the most powerful man in the world (Bush) and his only thought is to keep me safe." I don't feel "safe" with Bush as President. He has ruined our foreign policy, he thinks the problem with medical care come from trial lawyers and he allowed and enabled Vice President Cheney's Halliburton contracts. There's more, of course, that doesn't make ME feel "safe" but those are enough for now. If the Democrats had behaved as the Republicans do, there would be uproar. But what is not ok for the Dems is fine for the Repubs, apparently. It is not the trial lawyers fault that we do not have adequate flu vaccines, it is not the terrorists fault that oil is over $50 a barrel and it smells like treason to me that the military is fighting a "war" that doesn't address the complex issues of terrorism.
I am not a political commentator. The above proves that but as a citizen I do care deeply about the direction and vision of the United States. The odd dissonance of talking with people who support President Bush because they see him as "moral" is upsetting me.
I am interested in the moral issues. What I see and understand is not how my neighbors, friends and local newspaper see the issues.
The waiting is getting on my nerves.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Fall Days Sort Of

Here in the Deep South, the leaves don't really fall until they blown off the trees in December or January.
There isn't any point in shopping as the stores are filled with cold weather wear and we can wear flip flops still.
Transitional cottons work but you have to live down here to understand what that means.
It's almost 5:30pm. as I write. I'm waiting for the LH to come home, the LS to finish playing tennis and the LD to get home from swim team. The sun is setting and the light coming into my study windows is bright and yellow-y. The days are getting shorter. The pine needles are falling. It must be our Fall.
It's about the middle of October and we keep the air conditioning going 24/7. Days are hot and sunny. I am not complaining though because my courtyard garden is full of blooms. Hibiscus, pentas, begonias are blooming as happily as they did in mid-May.
The third Presidential Debate is tonight. I am attracted and repulsed. I watch the debates to hear what issues the candidates think are important (or do they discuss just what they think we think is important?). The second debate about sent me running. The Presidents' voice timbre sounded anxious and strident. Made me nervous. Sen. Kerry bobble-headed while listening. I know it is what they do that is important, not what they say, sound like or look like but it is difficult for me to understand how anyone could think President Bush can govern complicated situations when he had such a horrific time even sticking to his pre-fab answers. I don't think it is flip flopping to change one's position when one gets more information. I like that kind of flexibility. Shows that one is paying attention and willing to learn.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

T.S. Matthew and the Gospel of Luke

I am monitoring T.S. Matthew this morning. I'll be on the road to my church through three Mississippi counties under the tropical storm warning (means conditions are coming within 24 hours) by 9 am. We've had drippy rain for two days now which delights the trees. Conditons have been dry around here even with Ivan's brush past us in September. Now, we get the rain. I suppose all will be well but tornados are possible with all wind.
I'm ready with my sermon on Jesus and the healing of the Lepers in Luke 17. I hope the sermons says what needs to be said and that my words don't interfere with what the Spirit means for the congregation to hear. I never seem to know how my sermon will go. After all these years of preaching, I stand up in the pulpit and give myself over to a task which seems archaic (standing and yapping for 14 minutes solo to a culture who rarely listens to lengthy monologs), scattershot (who really knows what is going on with the congregation--are they distressed, hungry for clarity, bored, what?) and how much of me and my stuff interferes with the process of preaching. Preaching reminds me of jumping into a pit of water without knowing the depth or current. I prepare for this but I stand without a life jacket or much of a clue and dive into the water.
A compounding problem, and I am not sure if this is a problem but I think about it often, is that I worry about being entertaining. I cannot stand glib sermons. I don't want to preach this way but because I am so happy to be in the pulpit, I worry that I am glib. My call is not to entertain but to open up the scriptures in a way that the Gospel is heard. My strength as a speaker seems, at times, to be my weakness as well. Despite my contention that preaching should never be boring or dour, I don't like happy slappy preachers much and I worry that I am in this category.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord Our strength and our Redeemer. Amen.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

The Alphabet of Grace

I'm preaching on the Gospel lectionary text for us tomorrow: Luke 17:11-19. It is the story of the ten lepers healed by Jesus who rush off after their healing. Only one, a "foreigner" returns to thank Jesus for healing. In the back of my mind I remember Frederick Buechner writing about "Where are the Nine" in one of his books. Off I went to the scattered throughout our home bookcases and pulled all the Buechner I could find. Some copies have my name written in them and others have my Mom's name. Both of us read Buechner in the 70's-80's. I think the sermon or story I'm looking for is in The Gospel as Comedy, Tragedy and Fairy Tale. Looked everywhere but could not find the book. Found seven Buechner books, some duplicates, but not that one. I spent part of an afternoon reviewing his books amazed at how much I can remember of his writing after all these years. Thank you, God, for Buechner and his talents which opened scripture for me then and now.
In the Alphabet of Grace (1977, Seabury Press) I found this at the end of the final chapter:

"Half drowned in my pillow, a sleepy, shiftless prayer at the end. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. O Thou. Thou who didtst call us this morning out of sleep and death. I come, we all of us come, down through the litter and the letters of the day. On broken legs. Sweet Christ, forgive and mend. Of thy finally unspeakable grace, grant to each in his own dark room valor and an unnatural virtue. Amen".

Friday, October 08, 2004

St. Casserole Begins

I began reading blogs earlier this year. My pal Reilly told me about his blog. I read the first blogs I could find then began to look for fundamentalist Christian blogs. I've been curious about why people are fundamentalist so I thought I'd read more about them. Then I began to hear about the Emerging Church, so I searched for those blogs. Don't know if I understand Fundamentalism any better now but I like reading what other's think and discovering what they care about. I stopped reading as many fundy blogs and concentrated my reading on emerging church blogs. Fascinating to read but I am not sure I understand what and where and exactly why of the EC.
Let's see how this first post goes.