Wednesday, April 30, 2008

We are back from our time of rest...

...although I'm not sure one would call it 'rest!' Either way, it was a wonderful time away.... away from phones and e-mails and TV and day to day responsibilities. We visited San Francisco, hiked in the Redwood Forest, sipped wine in the wine country and walked along the coast. I dipped my fingers in the Pacific Ocean for the first time!

And now it is back to phone, emails, TV and day to day responsibilities.... but that's okay. I feel, if not rested, ready and refreshed. I will share some photos and maybe even a video when we get unpacked and downloaded and situated. In the meantime, I hope you all are able to find your moments of refreshment in your busy, unpredictable lives!

Friday, April 18, 2008


As much as I like to imagine a predictable life, this week certainly proved me wrong again. While weeks may go by that seem predictable enough, there is nothing predictable about ministry.

Sunday there were new visitors at church who required some face time after the service. Great! But not in my plan for Sunday afternoon!

Tuesday there was an emergency hospital visit (following the SPRC meeting) which kept me out until 11:00pm. This was a tough one, so it I ended up being awake half the night....

...which resulted in less productivity on Wednesday. There was just no way to get my mind around the sermon after only a few hours sleep. I did a few less cognitively challenging tasks and called it a day.

Thursday was the Late Night Blitz which is a fun night of pizza, bowling, games and sundaes for our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. Rested from Tuesday / Wednesday I was ready for an afternoon of work on the sermon until I got a call from one of our elderly members that her sister is dying and would like prayers. I was back to church in time for the Blitz, but not in time for the sermon!

Today is Friday ~ my day off~ and the sermon is no where! I'm hoping for a more predictable Saturday! But for now its off to lunch with my friend. Another surprise in my schedule, but the kind of surprise I am up for at this point!

Next week will be unpredictable too....VACATION! The blogs will be quiet for a while, but I'll fill you in on San Francisco / Sacramento when we get back. (Let's hope the airlines don't have any surprises in store for us!)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Harriet's Place

I've started a new blog called "Writing in the Garden." This is a place for me to post my Gram's writings, journals, prayers and poetry. I've been reading and compiling her works over the past few months and sharing them occasionally on this blog. However, I thought it would be nice for Gram to have her own place. I may even post the occasional picture. I imagine that family will be most interested, but anyone is welcome to visit. You can find it at:

Happy Blogging!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Six Little Words

Molly over at 'holy trouble' shared a six word meme. She tagged anyone else who would like to play. I've bee thinking it over and here goes.....

Doing justice. Loving kindness. Walking humbly.

If you want to play, here's what you do:

1) Write your own six word memoir.

2) Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.

3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere.

4) Tag at least five more blogs with links.

5) Don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.

6) Have fun.

Thanks Molly!

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Communion of Saints

As a pastor I often deal with illness and death. I probably blog about it more often then I realize. I've found through the years, though, that I have distanced myself from the pain of death and loss, mostly as a survival tool. That is not to say that I don't enter into the pain of others, but without certain boundaries it seems the emotional toll would be overwhelming.

This week, though, has been a tough one. A good and kind man, a member of the church, a saint has died. Ralph was more than just a church member. He was a good friend. His death was not a shock. He had been battling cancer for about a year. But it was still unexpected in the sense that you don't ever really believe that those you love will die... that is, until it happens. South Church was better for having known Ralph and will suffer his absence.

At the same time, I've been preparing for the memorial of a 39 year old man. Ian didn't have a church home but his family connected with our church through a friend of a friend. Ian's death was a complete shock. He went to bed one night and never woke up. The lives of his three young sons and long-time girlfriend will never be the same. Although I didn't know him, I grieve for the tremendous loss of this family.

As a result of these two events, I've been thinking a lot about the Communion of Saints. The last thing I said to Ralph when I saw him on Tuesday was, "I'll see you soon." When I said that I truly believed that we would have more time. Yet my statement is still true. I will see Ralph soon. It won't be at the side of his hospice bed, but in the glorious company of the saints of the light... and for that I give all my thanks and praise.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Random Revelations

Here are a few things I discovered this week:

1. It is sometimes easier to be honest with a stranger than with those you know and love.

2. Even when a good friend / church member / saint is dying a difficult death from cancer, God is good.

3. When a woodpecker pecks on your chimney cover at 6:30am it sounds like a marching band is descending into your fireplace.

4. Friendship sometimes supersedes even one's most principled convictions.

5. Tag sales often turn out to be more difficult than you first suspect.

6. No matter how hard you try, you can't make a kid take confirmation seriously.

7. White Cheddar is my favorite flavor of Cheez-It.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Friday Five ~ Revelation Edition

RevGal Sally writes, "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."

Even though I'm not preaching lectionary this week, I guess I can participate!

1. Book

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently read Matthew Avery Sutton's "Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America." McPherson is essentially the fore-mother of our current crop of TV evangelists. I have a lot of problems with TV evangelists, but I came away from the book with a great deal of respect for McPherson. She had her demons, but she also helped a lot of people. This just reminded me that my preconceived ideas and notions cannot limit the work of God's Spirit.


Last night I watched the documentary "For the Bible Tells Me So." Excellent! It challenges Christian homophobia through teachings and examples. I truly believe that what makes us Christian is love, not adherence to relatively obscure passages of Scripture. I thank God for the courage of those families who participated in the making of the film. They were Christ to me as I watched and heard their stories.

3. Song

"Up From the Grave he Arose." Do Easter hymns get any better?? I sang it three times last Sunday (both the traditional and "Spark"ed-up versions). I never get tired of it!

4. Another person

A gift was left in my mailbox on Easter morning. It was an original framed water color painting of the sun rising by my artist friend. This individual is going through a tough time both personally and medically. That she would take the time to create this for me means more than I can say. I feel so thankful and blessed.

5. Creation

Little purple flowers that are shooting up all over the church grounds, undeterred by the impending snow storm. I still haven't put away my hats and mittens, but these little flowers have faith!

Bonus answer: your choice- share something encouraging/ amazing/ humbling that has happened to you recently!

A note from a long distant friend. We had lost touch, but hearing from her again made me remember the journey we had together and it was good.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Once I......

I used to tell myself:

"Once I graduate from seminary I will be able to...... "
"After I get through my Probationary Exam I'll have time for...."
"Once I'm Ordained I can......"

Usually those blanks were filled with some version of:

...... read a certain book I am interested in.
...... study some church or theology related issue that I would like to know more about
...... exercise, eat well, relax at little bit

Well, the other day I realized that I met all those above requirements! No more excuses! That's kind of a scary thought. Yet I also realized that I am actually doing some of those things that I told myself I would, one day, be able to do. The realization came in the form of a little epiphany I had while walking one morning and it felt good.

The books I'm reading are not listed on a syllabus or recommended reading list, but they are things I want to read. I just read a book on Aimee Semple McPherson and the rise of evangelicalism in America simply because I was interested. At the same time, out of curiosity, I was reading a book on Buddhist teachings. Currently I am re-reading Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship just for 'fun.' I am also studying up on various aspects of the Emergent Church / Worship movement with the idea of exploring more deeply what it means to be 'church.' I'm having a good time!

That is not to say that there will not be more, "Once I..." and "After I...." thoughts. There will be moves and new appointments and challenges ahead. Yet it was a nice feeling to know that I am doing some of those things I always said I wanted to do ~ and that, in some sense, I can set my own agenda and guide my own study.

As for the eating right and relaxing, I'm still working on that. "Maybe once I....."

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Happy Birthday Boy!

"Where's my cake?"

Since Nicky was adopted from a rescue, we don't know how old he is or when his birthday falls. After getting to know him, we decided to celebrate April 1st as his birthday. We thought April Fool's Day somehow fit his personality. Happy Birthday, Boy! Here's to many more years of sleeping, eating, mopsing, and, most importantly, walking (or 'dubbing', as we call it, so as not to get him too excited)! Woof!