Friday, April 25, 2008

An Old Versus Modern Friday Five...

Singing Owl writes...Yesterday I had two separate conversations in which people were musing about how much change is occurring. The WW II generation, of which my mom is a part, went from horse and buggy to automobiles, saw the lessening, or even the end of many diseases, went from widespread use of kerosene lamps and outhouses (in the country, and most folks were rural)) to a totally electrified and plumbed society. The fastest means of communication was a telegraph. The second conversation--gulp--was about MY generation and how much change occurred in the last half of the 20th century. The person said his 13 year old had not seen a vinyl record album until a few days before, couldn't remember a time without cell phones, and on and on. As for the questions!

1. What modern convenience/invention could you absolutely, positively not live without?
Well, I would have thought it was the computer, but I have discovered that I can do well without least for awhile! I think it would be the car. There are so many wonderful places I would never have seen if it were not for the automobile that enabled me to get there.

2. What modern convenience/invention do you wish had never seen the light of day? Why?
I think we could do without cell phones...I certainly could do without them ringing in the middle of worship. Because we don't seem to know how to turn them off or to vibrate, they interrupt our efforts to have meaningful face-to-face conversation.

3. Do you own a music-playing device older than a CD player? More than one? If so, do you use it (them)?
I still have a cassette player here in our den, and I can't remember when we last used it. I think it may be "out of there" by the end of the weekend! Our turntable went out with the unlimited pickup last year after sitting in a closet for a few years.

4. Do you find the rapid change in our world exciting, scary, a mix...or something else?
I am mostly excited by it, but when I wonder what is ahead for our children and grandchildren, I get a little nervous that our ethics are not keeping pace with the rapid change.

5. What did our forebears have that we have lost and you'd like to regain?
Since I wasn't there, I can't be sure. After all, just about anything that my forebears have told me about the "good old days" has been filtered through their experience.

I think I'd like to regain the sense of community that people once had in their neighborhoods. I live in a neighborhood that has more private decks than front porches. We added a front porch to our home several years ago, and we enjoy visiting there with neighbors who are walking their dogs...or watching a summer storm pass over.

We are in the infancy stages of a vision for reclaiming community in our neighborhoods in our congregation. Our hope is that teams of 3-4 households in each geographical area will be salt and light where they live...coordinating help for people who need little things done around their homes, and sponsoring some kind of community-building event like a block party or holiday open house. We call it "Neighborhood Care-ring".

Friday, April 18, 2008

A 24-Hour Friday Five

RevHRod wrote...Yesterday I had the 24 hour flu. I had been told by the people who had it first that it really was a twenty-four hour bug. And so while I dealt with all the blech of the flu, I kept reminding myself that morning would come and I would feel a lot better.

This is certainly a strange way to start out a Friday Five but it made me think about what I might like to do if I knew it would only last for 24 hours. There are no reality boundaries to these imaginings. So here are the five things for you to consider...
  1. If you could dramatically change your physical appearance for 24 hours, what would you do? I would get rid of 50 pounds of extra weight and enjoy being more physically active for the day.

  2. If you could live in another place for 24 hours where would you go? I would go back to Japan, where I spent a year as an exchange student. I'd try to find some of the people I knew there and share lots of sushi and sake with them.

  3. You get to do somebody else's job for a day...I've always thought I might pursue a career in licensed massage therapy later on in life. I think I'd try it for a day and see how I'd like it.

  4. Spend the day with another person from anywhere in time and space...A day with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, working by her side.

  5. A magical power is yours. Which one would you pick? Any power that would enable me to alleviate human suffering by addressing its root causes...perhaps the powers of insight or persuasion, on a global level.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Movin' Out

Mother Laura writes, "We are right in the middle of a move--only twenty minutes away, but we're still a mix of busy, excited, nervous and surprisingly full of grief about what we're leaving, for me at least. So this week's Friday Five asks about your experience of the marvels and madness of moving...

1. How many times have you moved? When was the last time?
I personally have moved 16 times in 48 years. Our family moved to our current home nearly 14 years ago. This is by far the longest I have ever lived in one place.

2. What do you love and hate about moving?
I love the possibility of a new start - and a really clean house! I hate packing!

3. Do you do it yourself or hire movers?
I have never had the experience of using professional movers...but have been blessed with many helpful friends. What's a professional move like?

4. Advice for surviving and thriving during a move?
Accept friends' offers of ruthless about throwing away the stuff that you haven't used for 2 years or more.

5. Are you in the middle of any inner moves, if not outer ones? inner move toward calling our faith community to stand with our brothers and sisters who are caring for the poor and homeless in our area.

Bonus: Share a piece of music/poetry/film/book that expresses something about what moving means to you.
Movin' Out by Billy Joel comes to mind and is staying I'll go with that.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


Supper at Emmaus by He Qi

EASTER is the “Jesus” part of the "Joys – Junk – Jesus" focus we have been sharing at our congregation since Christmas

The Easter Gospels reveal what Jesus died and was raised from death to accomplish according to God’s will and purpose for creation…

1. Jesus the New Life for those ensnared by sin, death and the devil - we are delivered from their power.

2. Jesus the Peace-giver for the Doubting and Dejected – We are restored.

3. Jesus the Promise Keeper for the brokenhearted - We have hope.

4. Jesus the Caretaker - We journey through life in safety.

5. Jesus the Spiritual Guide to the Father - We trust.

6. Jesus the Full Revelation of God – We see God and believe.

7. Jesus the One in whom all creation is unified before God– We are community.

The Easter evening story of the Road to Emmaus is such a powerful story of transformation. When the un-recognized Jesus asks, "What are you discussing as you walk along?” the travelers STOP and stand still, looking sad, frozen in the moment by the over-powering loss they feel.

Pastor N. F. writes (and I paraphrase)...Theirs is the kind of pain that catches your breath in your throat. We've felt it at the death of a friend, parent, spouse, or child. Even the death of a dream can trigger the frozen response when it tears the future or a relationship away.

Luke doesn't tell us how Jesus unfreezes these travelers but they continue telling their story to him. And when the travelers have told the story and acknowledged their loss of hope, the walking and talking continue, and the dialog gains energy as Jesus starts telling God’s story. Beginning with Moses and the prophets, the still unrecognized Jesus tells them the story of God’s intention for humanity – for all creation.

Once they reach Emmaus, the travelers stop once more, but this time it is to stop Jesus from leaving them. They compel him to stay with them at their home. And as Jesus gives thanks to God, breaks bread and gives it to them - in the breaking of bread he is known. God’s story and theirs is joined forever in the revelation that Jesus is God’s Son, crucified and raised.

So, as one sister preacher notes, Emmaus gives us a pattern for worship. We journey along, worried by our world, our hearts often broken with loss. We read from Scripture and our hearts burn as Jesus opens it up to us, and then we recognize him in the breaking of the bread, and then we journey forth in joy.

When we come to know Jesus, it is a moment frozen in time. When we experience Jesus as One who has died and been raised for us, it is a moment of transformation after which nothing is the same. It may be a dramatic reversal of direction …or a moment of enlightened awareness when our hearts are touched, opened, and transformed.

And when we come to know Jesus and are known by him, the joyful response to this new reality and new direction is to jump up and run to tell everyone we know. Isn't it? And if so, we never tire of telling the story of Jesus and us.

Pat Richardson, formerly a senior VP for Motorola, would often find himself in the elevator with CEO Bob Galvin. Bob would say, "Pat, what are you working on?" Pat says that he would have about 40 seconds to tell a clear, concise, compelling story. He called it his "Elevator Speech." If Bob liked it, you got to ride all the way up to the top floor with him. If he didn't, pushed the button for the next floor and told you to have a nice day.

You and I need to develop and be able to tell our “elevator speech” about Jesus, at all times, in all places, to all people.We need to be able to identify and flesh out one of more of the many ways Jesus has transformed our lives:
1. Jesus the New Life for those ensnared by sin, death and the devil - we are delivered from their power.
2. Jesus the Peace-giver for the Doubting and Dejected – We are restored.
3. Jesus the Promise Keeper for the Broken-hearted - We have hope.
4. Jesus the Caretaker - We journey through life in safety.
5. Jesus the Spiritual Guide to the Father - We trust.
6. Jesus the Full Revelation of God – We see God and believe.
7. Jesus the One in whom all creation is unified before God– We are community.

But maybe you are sitting here still frozen… Because …Yes…I am talking about evangelism.The big scary “E” word. I was on a transformational journey with 20 other women last weekend which happened to take place on a cruise ship. At one point when several of them were sitting in a hot tub along with another individual just talking , the word "evangelism" crept out, and so did the other individual in the hot-tub! He made a beeline out of there.

Perhaps we make evangelism scary and hard because we see it as a heavy duty rather than how we live, and live joyfully. Evangelism can scare the Jesus out of people if it’s all about 'rules'. Evangelism can scare the Jesus out of people if we are so forceful that we chase people away.

So whether we can identify our “elevator speech” about Jesus yet or not, we can, as God has created us to do, live and love each a joy, rather than a chore…

Let me close with a story that a brother in Christ shared with me this week…

A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner. In their rush, with tickets and briefcases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly missed boarding.

ALL BUT ONE !!! He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch with his feelings, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.

He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor.

He was glad he did. The 16-year-old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time, helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her, no one stopping and no one to care for her plight.

The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table and helped organize her display. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket.

When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, 'Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?' She nodded through her tears... He continued on with, 'I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly.'

As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, 'Mister...' He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes. She continued, 'Are you Jesus?'

He stopped mid-stride, and he wondered. Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with the question burning in his heart: 'Are you Jesus?' Do people mistake you for Jesus? That's our destiny, what we were created for… to be so much like Jesus, that people see him as we live in and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace.

If we have come to know Him and be known by Him, then ours is the call to live, walk, listen and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting Scripture and going to church, or even sharing in this life-giving meal. It's actually living the living Word as life unfolds before us day to day.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Friday Five April 4, 2008

Sally asked...

With this Sunday's gospel reading in mind, that wonderful revelation of Christ to the companions on the Emmaus road. I wonder where you might have been surprised by God's revelation recently.

So with no further waffle I offer you this weeks Friday 5:

How has God revealed him/herself to you in a:

1. Book
I am in love with Alexander McCall Smith's series "The First Ladies Detective Agency". The protagonist is a strong wise African woman named Precious Ramotswe. As I read each volume (there are 7 or 8 now), I delight in a woman who is filled with a spirit of grace, wisdom and wit. She points me to an image of the woman of God God wants me to be.

This one is harder - my memory about films is very short - so I can enjoy them again and again as if for the first time. The Green Mile jumped to the tip of my tongue as I read the question, so I will leave it at that.

3. Song many, but I'll say psalm 141 as it is sung in the ELW hymnal evening prayer and Marty Haugen's Holden Evening Prayer settings

4. Another person
My husband...never have I known someone so filled with grace toward me. I do not deserve him, but he is mine and I am his.

5. Creation
Mornings at Glen Lake, in northern lower Michigan - think of your left hand - palm out- as lower Michigan. Look to the left side of your ring finger - that's where Glen Lake is. The waters are almost as blue as parts of the Caribbean, and sunrise and for 2 weeks each summer I get to spend my devotional time in the early morning there. Above picture is of the moon rising over said lake...beautiful!

Bonus answer: your choice- share something encouraging/ amazing/ humbling that has happened to you recently!
Without a doubt - the warm welcome and time shared with 21 amazing women at the RGBP Big Event

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Million Dollar Friday Five

1. Tithe it to some ministries I want to support

2. Start on our family's dream to secure a place on Glen Lake, near the Sleeping Bear Dunes in Northern Lower Michigan

$1 million would not be enough for #2 :(


I've just returned last evening from one of the most joyous, worthwhile, transformational experiences I've ever had. Thanks to all the RGPBs whose welcome was warm...grace abounded 24-7!

I've gone dark (no, not with a suntan!!!) into anonymous blogging so that I can be real without fear.

The word I walked with over the past few days was Integrity. Not the first time this word has sat in my craw...and certainly not the last. But when I drew this word this time, I saw a period at the end of it - rather than a question mark, as had been the case awhile back when this word first started sitting on my shoulder. I am grateful, deeply grateful for the journey toward deeper integrity...and i look to this blog as a touchstone for the journey as it continues.

...I have procrastinated enough, and now I must face laundry and all the other stuff that calls my name back here somewhere south of somewhere.

Hugs and kisses and chocolate ice cream cones Lido Deck Aft to my RGBP sisters