Friday, March 30, 2007

It’s a Friday, so you know that has to mean a Friday Five…

Here’s the Holy Week Five, as created by Reverend Mother:

1. Will this Sunday be Palms only, Passion only, or hyphenated?
We’re doing the hyphenated version. I’m trying my hand at stitching together two services—a palm service and a passion service—with Communion as the seam joining them. It means I have to be very creative about the Communion prayer and consecration, and our musician is searching desperately for music that help serve as a bridge…but rather than jump too abruptly from one to the other, Communion can be a bridge. When I have a complete order of service, I’ll post it. I’m lucky in that the congregation is willing to let me experiment a bit…within certain limits, of course. There will be two readings, and two meditations, tied together in some fashion. I think around letting things be incomplete, untidy—we don’t know whether the crowd on one Sunday was the same people as Friday’s mob; it matters, but we can’t know. We have to just sit with that, and acknowledge the contradictions within ourselves. And then the Crucifixion—that’s not the way things are supposed to go in a good story. If Luke were a Disney story, the crowd on Palm Sunday would have taken over the palace, kicked out the Romans, and made Jesus king. But that’s not the reality, and so we have to accept that too—that Jesus was Crucified and no angels came to rescue him. He was killed, he was dead. We have to accept that. The reading for the second part of the service isn’t the passion story; it’s the account by David Mundy of his partner’s agonizing death as a result of AIDS. Mundy says he had to accept it, to sit with George’s death, every step of the way with him. And that is what he suggests we need to do with the Crucifixion, too. Very powerful, moving stuff. I’m going to want to tread carefully, as some of our members are HIV+, others have lost friends and loved ones to HIV/AIDS—it’s going to stir some memories. But they know as well as I do that we cannot forget. And what better time to remember the ones we loved who are no longer with us than at Easter when we also remember the One who conquered death?

2. Maundy Thursday Footwashing: Discuss.
One of those things that works better in theory than in practice. The alternative, handwashing, is even worse (who washed his hands on Maundy Thursday/Good Friday?).

3. Share a particularly meaningful Good Friday worship experience.
This is very sad. I can’t com up with one. I can imagine all kinds of services that would b moving and powerful—but they haven’t been done. The problem is that when I'm leading worship, I can’t (or I don’t) allow myself to be drawn completely into the experience. I’m always focussing on the next thing, on the logistics of getting to point A to point B—I can’t relax and go with the flow. So for the last ten years, at least, I’ve been leading or assisting with worship on Good Friday (always a good thing to give to the clergy candidate or intern or seminary student..). The service this year will be very powerful, I think—modified stations of the cross, with “Were you there…” a verse at a time, as appropriate (solo), with some other hymns and prayers (including one from the Q’uran and one from a Jewish Kaddish). We end with the Seven Last Words as a litany (the congregation saying Jesus’ words), and then the last verse of the solo…”Were you there when they laid him in the tomb? Were you there when they laid him in the tomb….” Trailing into silence, unfinished. And we all leave in silence.

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."

And as long as Eastr isn’t too early in the year…I’ve been to far too many frozen Sunrise Services to stand it. Can we keep it indoors?
c) "[Yawn] Can't Jesus stay in the tomb just five more minutes, Mom?!?"

5. Complete this sentence: It just isn't Easter without...
Spring flowers all over the altar! The altar guild at one church used to literally create a garden in the chancel on Easter Sunday (I think they spent most of Easter Saturday working on it) with cedar edging and the lilies, azaleas, tulips, hyacinths and hydrangeas arranged just so. Stunning. They should have gotten together with my friend who created a tomb out of papier mache that he used on Good Friday for a tomb, and then on Easter it became the altar for Communion…also very cool. It would have ben visually stunning to combine the two.

Bonus: Any Easter Vigil aficionados out there? Please share.
If they are done well, yes. That and if I have a sympathetic companion to help me get there in the first place, and then keep me company all the way through. Otherwise I’d wuss out at the last minute.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Still Guilty...

...Only now I'm feeling a tad guilty because I'm sitting here working on this instead of going to bed as I really should be.

But I do feel a responsibility to my readers (hello? all three of you there?), especially since I missed out on last Friday's meme--which I really meant to do, but somehow suddenly Friday was gone and I hadn't written it, and Saturday, when I could have used a distraction from the sermon, I...forgot. Which I find amazing, considering I used to do them (you'll pardon the pun) religiously. I haven't been able to do the reading for the blog either.

So what have I been doing, you may well ask? I wish it were big exciting things, but it's just not. Mostly some basic strategic administrative things I should have been doing all along. That and now that I live alone, I have to do all the housework--house is the same size and many things need to don just as often (laundry, dishes) even if there aren't as many to b done, and some things just don't change (yard work, feeding the dog). I am trying to focus on catching up with my reading, so maybe that's part of it.

I've done some more looking into doctoral programs, and the DMin programs don't seem to offer enough of the meaty theological stuff that I want, but the PhD programs seem to require a reading knowledge of one (if not two) languages beyond English. It makes sense, especially for a theology degree, but still....the thought of learning another language is a tad scary. I can squeak by in German, I think, with some brush-up and some vocabulary expansion. My German vocab leans more towards art, sailing, and food then Schliermacher, Moltmann and Barth, I'm afraid....It's what I was into when I lived in Germany, what can I say? SO there's on, but the other? Please don't ask me to learn French, I've tried and I cannot get the accent....Oh, wait. This is a READING maybe I could learn it. I have Francophone friends, perhaps they would help me with tutoring (not that kind of help and not that kind of friend--by some odd coincidence, they are all gay men. [puzzled look]).

Anyway, I'm rambling now, and I've done that rare thing, an off-the-cuff blog entry (rare for me).

So--good things to look forward to--dinner out with a friend Thursday, friends over for dinner Friday, my son arriving Saturday, Palm Sunday on Sunday, to my mother's Sunday and Monday, dinner with still yet more friends on Monday night, a wedding on the next Saturday, Easter, a weekend off spent with my mom and sister and her husband...further ahead, a trip back to Large Capitol City (where TO lives) for his HS graduation and visit with many old friends, our denomination's general conference (which I actually enjoy very much), another wedding, and, looking way ahead to August, a weekend off that I am contemplating expanding into a week and spending at my favourite retreat centre (see my entries from October).

In spite of the glitches and bumps, life is good, you know?

Cottage at GilChrist Retreat Centre...a little taste of Paradise on Earth...
A bit of the woods, the fields, the animals, people...
A bit of meditation and contemplation...
All wrapped in the arms of God.

Guilty, guilty guilty!

I have not posted in so long I feel like a stranger.
Life is my only excuse.
I'm working on one! A post, not an excuse.
Check back later.
In the meantime, I do usually find time to post comments at the RevGalBlogPals (they're a lot shorter).

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday Five—Haftas and Wannas

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five (courtesy of ReverendMother) is five things I plan to do today and five things I would like to be doing today…


1. Sermon preparation

I have a meeting tomorrow which will probably take up much of the afternoon, and a community event I must attend tomorrow night, so I need to get a good start on the sermon today. However, while I’ve done some research and preparation, I have no idea where I’m going with it.

2. Vacuum the house.

My dog, Mr. M., is a Pembroke Welsh corgi. He has a double coat. It is spring, He is shedding both of them at once.

3. Get my laptop to functional mode.

Actually, I’ve already done this one. My laptop’s (my only computer) screen has been flickering and fading. Impossible to do much on it, of course—except that my sermon notes (what I do have), order of service, prayers, etc., are on it. Today I was able to borrow a monitor from a church member who had an extra one lying about. The good news—it works, so the video card in my laptop is OK. The bad news—that means it’s either the wiring or the screen itself. I don’t want to buy a new computer!!

4.Bake cookies for the event tomorrow night.

How can I make chocolate chip cookies green? It’s a St. Patrick’s Day potluck, and we’re supposed to bring green food. I’m seeing a lot of lime jello and key lime pie in my future… I was going to go to the bulk food store and pick out green M&Ms from the bin, but I don’t have time. I refuse to add green food colouring.

5. Reading

I have a book I am supposed to have read for my mentor, and another I’ve been working on for far too long, and several more I’m in the middle of, and then the RevGals are starting a reading blog… Help! So many books, so little time, indeed.


1. Read.

Besides the “should” reads (see above), I have some I’m trying to read for myself—those anomalous books that aren’t exactly pleasure reading, in the sense of a mystery novel, but that aren’t really professional reading, either—books I want to read and I enjoy reading…on theology and queer theory and history…

2. Go to bed early.

Like, 10:30 pm would be nice.

3. Finish writing the Good Friday worship service.

It isn’t that far away.

4. Watch a movie.

A friend lent me the DVDs for the first season of “The L Word,” after I mentioned I had seen only a couple of episodes (it’s on at the same time as “ER,” for crying out loud). That was a month ago, I need to get them seen and back to her (no, I can’t pretend to have watched them, because they’re a hot topic and I need to know about them…)

5. Mindless Web surfing

It sounds like a waste of time, but somehow I almost always end up finding some information or a website that I can really use. No today though…

So, I guess it’s time to work on the sermon and Good Friday service, and after dinner bake cookies and vacuum. Maybe I can fit in some reading, too, before 10:30.

See you tomorrow morning bright and early for the preacher’s party!

Back on the Blog Again…

With apologies to Willie Nelson, I think it was…

For the last week or so, I have been operating with great difficulty—my laptop screen was not functioning. It would work for about ten minutes after I turned it on, then flicker and flash until I turned it off. When I turned it back on, it would work for maybe three minutes. And so on. I was pretty much just answering critical email, and nothing more. No journal, worship planning, no Bible study, no Web surfing or sermon research, and certainly no blogging.

Today I was lent a monitor to use—and it works! Which means it’s probably either the wiring or the screen dying. I don’t really want to buy a new laptop, both because of the expense and because it’s such a hassle to get everything working the way I like it. I’ve had this one for five years, and we know each other now.

However, it means I can do the Friday Five! Oh, and a sermon tomorrow. So I’d better get to work…

Friday, March 09, 2007

You Say Tom-ay-toe, I Say Tom-ah-toe…

The RevGalBlogPals Friday Five this week is five things I like (or dislike) that an SO dislikes (or likes). Got that? Good. Here we go…

1. Spinach. This popped right into my head. My mother loves the stuff—I can’t stand it. We had a rotation of vegetables for dinner when I was a kid—peas, green beans, salad, corn, and spinach, with an occasional wax beans, applesauce or canned pears/peaches thrown in. Problem is, it was canned spinach…globby, tasteless and with a texture that made me gag. Mom loved it—she poured vinegar over it, or butter, and ate it up. Ugh. I was always glad she didn’t like liver…

2. Turnips. DP loves turnips, and will eat them in place of potatoes. The first time she made them, she didn’t think to ask me if I liked them. I thought they were odd-looking potatoes and dug in. Well… After that, we cooked a turnip for DP and a potato for RP.

3. Bang-bang-shoot-em-ups, as I call those movies that primarily consist of gun battles, car chases, and helicopters swirling out of a midnight sky to chase Bad Guys. TO and his father love them…I can’t stand them. When they rented one, I’d go in the other room to read. When they went to see one, I’d see something else or go shopping.

4. At one time, TO liked a certain rap star known for his racist, misogynistic and homophobic lyrics. TO wanted to buy a poster of said person for his room (and was of an age when his parents had to approve all purchases).. I usually let him decorate his room as he liked, listen to what he liked—because I remembered from being that age that if your parents don’t object, eventually you realize that the singer/writer/actor is boring. But this time I put my foot down. I sat down with TO and explained why this person’s face was not welcome in my house (this was before I had come out). TO did not want to listen to reason. TO’s father felt “it’s just a poster,” and couldn’t understand my resistance. However, I eventually prevailed, and the poster was not purchased. TO now views that rap star with disdain.

5. I hesitate to mention this one…Beer. DP doesn’t like it at all. I love it. Not your Miller Lite, Budweiser beer, though. I’m more high maintenance when it comes to beer. I like a light pilsner or a good yeasty wheat beer. Hand-crafted, with plenty of flavour. Preferably brewed within five miles as the crow flies, although that’s not an absolute requirement. A honey ale is one of my favourites. Having said all that, I hasten to add that I actually drink about one a week, maybe two if things are rough. I bought a six pack back in early February and I still have one left. Maybe what I want to say is that I don’t drink to get drunk, I drink to enjoy what I’m drinking.

Bonus: Something nobody likes: Tripe. Does anyone actually eat that stuff, or is it like fruitcake that people pretend to like? Something everyone likes: chocolate. At least a little bit… Not that everyone eats it, but everyone likes it.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Friday Five: A Beautiful Thing

Reverendmother at the RevGals is suggesting this Friday Five, about creating....

by Andrea Ford

1. Would you call yourself "creative"? Why or why not?
Yes, I would. Not in terms of craft-work, perhaps (although once upon a time I did a fair amount of cross-stitch), but in terms of making something new that wasn’t there before. My creative bent is more with words—sermons, prayers, blogs, fiction—and with a garden. The first takes lots of editing—which took me a while to learn. It’s OK to re-write a paragraph or a prayer or a whole sermon completely—that’s how you get to the point where it needs to be. Your first effort is almost never exactly what you want—the discipline and the skill is reworking it—removing, adding, changing—to get it to the place it needs to be. In gardening, creating takes patience. You have a vision, as you do in writing, of the end product, but it takes a lot longer.
And you have to be willing to partner with Nature—you may think Four O’Clocks would be perfect in a certain corner, but if it gets too hot there, they will never grow, and your vision has to be altered. Sometimes you don’t know until you’ve tried something whether it will work or not (whether you’re writing or gardening), and you have to be willing to uproot/delete what just isn’t working. Maybe you move it to another bed/piece of writing, but you take it out of the place where it doesn’t work.

2. Share a creative or artistic pursuit you currently do that you'd like to develop further.
As every even semi-regular reader of this blog knows, I want to write more, be published, get my ideas out there and get some feedback. I do get some here, and that’s great—but I think there’s maybe a wider audience out there.

3. Share a creative or artistic pursuit you have never done but would like to try.
I’d love to try working with stained glass. I see so many nice things—suncatchers, panels for screens, windows, church pieces—that I’d love to know more about how they are made and the limitations and the freedoms of stained glass.

4. Complete this sentence: "I am in awe of people who can _____________."
Compose music. Oh, I once pasted together a simple psalm response for a seminary class (pass/fail, luckily), but anyone who can work not only with multiple chords and harmony but different instruments and voices, who is familiar with the different keys and when you might want to use one over another…I am awed.

5. Share about a person who has encouraged your creativity, who has "called you to your best self." (I'm pretty sure that's from the Gospel of Oprah).
Oh, my. I can’t name one person. I have been blessed with many people who have encouraged and supported and praised my efforts, from my mother’s praise for my elementary school poetry to professors in library school who appreciated my more creative papers to seminary professors who encouraged me to create liturgies to my colleagues and superiors now who compliment my sermons and worship services to the readers of this blog who say, “Well done,” or “beautiful,” or “this post was so moving.” If I don’t make my creative goals, it won’t be for lack of encouragement and support!

Clarence Darrow--Beyond Scopes and Leopold & Loeb

Personalities fascinate me--people do. One way I try to understand history and places is through people--which is why I love good histor...