Saturday, October 31, 2009

All Saints Day Altar

Spent some time today dressing the altar for All-Saints' Day. Jack's theme is butterflies (from Hymn of Promise.

The main fabric is a blue/green/purple batik with butterflies and the cross is made of the same butterfly fabric.

I hope it works tomorrow.


Friday, October 30, 2009


Finished the scriptures readings this week for Disciple. As I mentioned, the theme is atonement, and there are many passages about sacrifices and offerings. One of the purposes of the sacrifices was to create reconciliation instead of retribution.

Sometimes, I think we would rather have retribution.

Sometimes, we even relish the idea that Christ will be victorious, that God's side will eventually win. "Ah hah! The time will come will those bad guys will get theirs!" We enjoy the thought.

I was reading Barkley's commentary about the book of Hebrews yesterday, in preparation for a sermon (maybe -- I mean, yes, there will be a sermon; it might be based in Hebrews). He said that God will be victorious. His victory will come, not in power -- not in "getting that bad guys," but in love. Those who work against him will come to love him -- and he will embrace them.

He's get them, but he'll get them to reach out to him in love.

Radical thought. Retribution? No. Victory? Yes. Reconciliation.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009


I've been reading for Disciple this week. The theme for the week is Atonement, and much of the reading involves the idea and process of priestly sacrifices. Offerings.

The notes in my Bible talk about the purpose for the offerings -- how confession allows for the acceptance of responsibility, that the process creates restitution instead of retribution, returning people to relationships with each other, and how people's relationship with God is restored.

I've been thinking about the idea of restoration of relationships in the past few days. Have you ever been in a situation in which words or actions have created a break in a relationship? What did you do? I don't imagine there are many disagreements where both parties can't accept some blame. Do you wait for the other person to apologize first? Do you step forward, accepting responsibility, because the idea of restoration is more important than fairness?

What would Christ do? What would God lead us to do? Jesus accepted blame and sin so that our relationship with God would be restored. We don't have to guess how he would react; we already know.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Radical New Beginnings

I picked up a copy of Weavings today. The theme of this issue is "Where is Your God?" I found the introduction to the issue to be especially well written, and was struck by a phrase early in the piece: "radically new beginnings."

Radical, according to, "marked by a considerable departure from the usual or traditional" or "extreme." New beginnings in God are radical -- they are extreme, a considerable departure from what we are used to.

Is it any wonder that sometimes we fail to see God, to find God, to follow God? His work in our lives is radical. Is it possible that there are times when we don't see him because what he is doing in our lives is too radical for us to see it? Is his work so unexpected that our eyes aren't trained to notice it?

Two people walked down a road after the crucifixion, mourning the death of their friend, Jesus of Nazareth. A man joined them on their walk, and they poured out their hearts and stories to this stranger. Neither one of them expected the radical new beginning of a Christ, resurrected. Could this be the reason they didn't recognize him as he walked with them?


Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The devotional in our office meeting today was based on Psalm 19.

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. '

It was a good reminder to us that we can see the presence of God when we look around us -- the evidence of him is everywhere.

Also, today, in my Disciple reading, I read the passage in Exodus where Moses is descending the mountain, and is seen by his people. He was glowing. He had obviously been the presence of God because of his appearance.

It started me wondering... Is the presence of God obvious in us? If we see God in fall trees and sunsets, can we also see God in each other? Do we glow with the presence of God?

I attended an Afterglow (ironically enough) Emmaus meeting this evening. Some of the pilgrims from the previous two walks were present and were given the opportunity to stand up and tell of God's presence in their lives. They were glowing. God had obviously been present.

We should all glow with God's presence

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Axis Mundi

Today my readings for Disciple were from Exodus 24-27 which includes the instructions for the building of the tabernacle.

I was intrigued by my the note in my Bible regarding the function of the tabernacle. It called the tabernacle axis mundi, meaning the central point of creation where heaven and earth link. Wow. It was also described as the place where the Lord can descend to the earth.

We no longer have a tabernacle with an ark -- perhaps it is because we no longer need one. Christ became the axis mundi -- the place where the Lord can descend to the earth. He is the central point of creation where heaven and earth link. Because of that, and because of God's presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit, we are linked to heaven.

We can meet with God. We can come to discern his will. When we pay attention, we will know that we are in the presence of God.

On the Emmaus Walk I just returned from, there was a communion service at the end of which the song Amazing Grace was sung -- it was the version that includes the added lyrics: My chains are gone; I've been set free. As the song started, one pilgrim stood, then another, then another, until the whole group was standing, some with hands raised. God's song drifted across them -- Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound.

I was convinced at that moment of the reason I serve on Emmaus teams. Surely the presence of the Lord was in that place -- axis mundi.

(Excuse my misuse of Latin, please. I was just intrigued by the concept.)

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cedar Lakes

Back from Emmaus. To tired to post. Image is of Cedar Lakes.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Servers and Power

It’s been a long week. We’ve had issues with our server for the past couple of weeks. When our server is down, we can’t get to our documents; our Accounts Administrator can’t post earnings or get reports out; our Administrative Assistant can’t update the website. For all intents and purposes, we can’t get anything done. It seemed like a wasted week…a week in which we intended to get our quarterly statements out and get our newsletter to the printer. Now we’re behind schedule.

To top it off, yesterday the power was off in the Conference Center and in an area of downtown Charleston. The phones worked for a short time until the battery backup quit working. We have come to rely so much on computers and technology; without them, we’re spinning our wheels.
Maybe I need to rethink servers and power.

Jesus taught about servers in John 13: 12-16. “After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.”

Jesus taught about power in John 15:5. “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”

Perhaps this past week should be a reminder to me that I should be the server, and that my power does not come from a computer or a grid, but in staying connected to Jesus Christ.

While the power was off yesterday, I had a request for a copy of a document. “Just e-mail it as an attachment,” she said. When the electricity came on, I still couldn’t access my documents. So I opened a file—a cardboard file in a fireproof file cabinet—retrieved the document, warmed up the Xerox machine, copied it, and mailed it in an envelope with a stamp on it…such a nostalgic way of doing business.

It was a pleasure to be a "server," though.

Jeff Taylor, Guestpiper

Friday, October 23, 2009

Against All Odds

Posted by Steve, husband of Kim, and guest sandblogger during her Emmaus walk.

“I can’t take it anymore.” “Give me strength.” “I quit.” “What’s the use – it won’t work.” Life is certainly baptism by fire. We are challenged EVERY day; to be kind, to be courteous, to be honest, to be respectful, to be on time for work, to feed our children, to pay our bills, and the list goes on. With life comes difficulty. Some of it self inflicted, some of it thrust upon us unwillingly. We are strapped for time and often money as we try to make it from one day to the next. We hear catchy little phrases like “the glass is half full” or “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Fine and dandy until you come face to face with a wall that you know you CANNOT climb. The picture that accompanies this post is similar to the one that actually started my mind down this path. The picture is a flower growing where logic says it cannot. The original picture is of a petunia growing about half way up a set of brick stairs at the church where we have our Emmaus events. The stairs are brick held together by mortar – nowhere for a root to take hold….yet, there it is. When we hit that wall, can’t go on, know that success is impossible ---- turn to God (should have turned to God first, but that will have to continue into another post… we are, after all, imperfect humans striving to get it right). Philippians 4:13 says I can do all things through God strengthens me. When you are down there where the brick and mortar come together, stretch out your hand and touch what God gives – growth.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Guest Sandbloggers

This image is from the Sanctuary of Morris Memorial United Methodist Church. It's a lovely Sanctuary, and the stained glass is beautiful. The cross is a different way to design with stained glass, I think. Kind of thinking outside the box. The shape tells most of the story, rather than the image in the glass. The color of the glass gets warmer towards the center which I liked.
  • There is beauty in us that is not linked with who we are, but is instead seen when we allow Christ to shape us.
  • At the center of the cross is light, warmth and love.
I won't be posting again until Sunday evening; I'm leaving tonight for an Emmaus walk. I'm serving as an Assistant Lay Director, which is a role I've never held before. I'm a little nervous; hopefully, God will do the shaping, and all will go as he needs it to go. I deliver a talk (Grow Through Study) on Saturday morning (8:30 -- early!), so think of me.

You, reader, will be in excellent hands, though. Steve will be guest-sandblogging on Friday, and Jeff (JtM) will take the wheel on Saturday. I know you will be blessed by their songs. To learn a little more about them, you can read previous posts (linked in the sidebar), or go to this post, or this one, or even this one. I seem to go on walks in October, and these two men have always written for me for that October weekend.

I thank both of them for taking the time to post. I blog because it makes me think each day, and I would be tempted to avoid that if not forced. Knowing that the two of them will take the time to write a post and then to post it is grace to me. A form of affirmation. Thank you to both of you.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tumbling Up

At one of the worship services at our national meeting, the worship leader used Nehemiah as a scripture reference. If you remember, Nehemiah came to Jerusalem in order to rebuild the wall around the city. He worked hard, planning and organizing the effort. The worship leader said, "and the walls came tumbling up."

"And the walls came tumbling up." I love that phrase. Do you know what that says? It says that the effort to rebuild the walls only succeeded because God was involved. Walls can't tumble up, even with our very determined efforts. We can't make that happen. Only God can make that happen. Only God can make walls tumble up.

What else in our lives can only happen if God is involved? Do we fail to call on him? To notice him? Do we rely too much on ourselves and not at all on God, and then expect to make walls tumble up?


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

False Fronts

When we were in Memphis, walking down Beale Street, I noticed these buildings, held up by steel supports. As I got closer (it was night when I first saw them), I could see that only the front of the buildings was still there. The rest was gone. Behind the false fronts, where the buildings used to be, was an area with tables and music.

I wondered why they hung on to just the fronts, to the extent that they had to build a steel structure in front of them, out onto the sidewalk, to maintain them. Why were they so important?

I wonder that about our churches, too. Why do we sometimes go to extreme measures to maintain the appearance of something, to keep up a tradition, even though the "meat" of it has long since disappeared? Do we ever do something in church, just because that's the way we've always done it?

Why not tear down the walls and let the table and the music shine forth?


Monday, October 19, 2009


Well, how about a completely un-serious post? I'm about to fall asleep as I type, so here is one I don't have to think much about.

We just got back from Memphis a few days ago, and I have lots of post ideas that I'll get to soon.

But for now...

The Friday Five from RevGalBlogPals last week:

  1. What is your favorite footwear at this time in your life? I most often wear low heals -- not flat, but with a little bit of a heal. I want them to be comfortable and not hurt my feet. I didn't used to feel that way, but age has made it so I really don't want to trade comfortable feet for anything
  2. What was the craziest shoe, boot, or sandal you ever wore? Toe shoes in ballet were horrible. I really can't think of crazy shoes I've worn.
  3. What kind of shoes did you wear in your childhood? I can't really remember. Sneakers? Don't know. Nothing particular that I remember. I do remember black patten-leather shoes.
  4. How do you feel most comfortable? Barefoot, flip-flops, boots, or what?Barefoot.
  5. What kind of socks do you like, if any? White socks with sneakers. Handknit wool socks when it's really really cold.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Never gives up

Part of what I do as Lay Leader is to organize worship on Laity Sunday, which was today. Over a year ago, I knew that there was a particular gentlemen -- a newer member of our church -- who I wanted to ask to preach for the day. I prayed about it in the weeks approaching the time to ask him, and it was always his name that kept coming up in my mind.

When I asked him, I told him that he didn't need to answer right away; that he could take some time to think about it. He did think about it, for a little less than a week. During that week, he kept asking me questions about what would be involved, lectionary readings, etc. "If I were to do this, and I'm not saying yes, but..." I kept answering his questions, praying for his discernment, and waiting to see what would happen. I even had my Disciple class praying that God would lead him -- either to yes or no, but to the right answer.

He said yes, and today he preached. It was great, and I'm so glad he did it.

After the service, he told me that 2 weeks before I asked him to preach, he had had a dream. In this dream, he was preaching at the pulpit in our church. He knew when I asked, he would have to say yes. "Why did you wait a week then?"

"I was still trying to get out of it," he told me.

The story tells so much about us, and about God. God is persistent, he works with us to move us where he wants us to be. We fight it, even when we know what our answer should be. Thank God he never gives up.

Image: Rose near our hotel in Memphis

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Beale Street, Memphis


Friday, October 16, 2009


I mentioned earlier that I had read Exodus 5-7 for my Disciple class. In addition to my previously recorded observations, a particular verse stuck out to me.
Moses told this to the Israelites; but they would not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and their cruel slavery. (6:9)

God was planning to deliver them from Pharaoh. That wasn't his only act of deliverance, however. He was delivering them from the hold slavery had on their spiritual life. Their broken spirit was preventing them from hearing and acknowledging God.

I was reminded of the line from the communion liturgy: "free us for joyful obedience." We are also delivered, as the Israelites were.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

BB King Blue's Club


Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I'm sitting in an airport, waiting for a flight (which is a long story, and which I'm sure will end up as a blog or sermon illustration some day). I was able to catch up on my Disciple reading (finished yesterday's assignment). I'm being less stringent about it this week (although I do plan to finish it) because I will be traveling.

I finished Exodus 5-7. As I was reading the story of Pharaoh forcing the Hebrew people to make bricks without straw, a strange parallel occurred to me. The Pharaoh commanded that the slaves make the same number of bricks, but he did not provide them with straw; they had to gather it themselves. It's an impossible goal. They don't have enough time to both gather straw and make the same number of bricks. When they fail at this unreachable goal, they are punished.

God's not like that. God sets a goal for us of sinlessness / blamelessness. He knows, though, that we cannot reach it. Rather than punishing us for our inability to do what he knows we cannot do, he gives us grace. Sins are forgiven, and we are made blameless.

Grace is absolutely amazing.

This chapter in Disciple is called Deliverance. I think that the Israelites were not the only ones who were and are delivered!

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I'm packing my bags, preparing to fly to Memphis tomorrow for a national meeting. I'm tired; I'm ready to go to bed. I THINK I'm finished packing, although I keep thinking of things.

I'm sure I've packed too much. I always pack too much. Why is that?

So, for this evening, a very short, little story. I was reminded of it by reading Lectionary Leanings on RevGalBlogPals. The blog post author was discussing the gospel reading about the "me first" clamor of James and John. She was reminded of the Servant Song, which was interesting to me, because I chose hymns today for Laity Sunday, and I looked at that one.
"Brother, sister, let me serve you
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I may have the grace
To let you be my servant too"
A few weeks ago, I was listening to an Emmaus talk about Christian Action. The speaker told a story of how she loved the youth of her church. Each year, she goes with them as a Youth Leader to Ichthus. Her "thing" -- one of the ways she serves -- is that when they return to the tent, she gives the youth foot rubs.

She then told us that she didn't think she really had an example of her own Christian Action to share.

How amazing. How humble. How is it that she didn't recognize her own service when she saw it.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Giving Thanks

Today, the second Monday in October, is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. You can read about it here. Martin Frobisher, an explorer. He was searching for a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean. Have you looked at Canada on the map? It's north of Chicago. North of Montana. North of even the coldest place (other than Alaska) in the United States. OK, it's tied with Maine in some places, but STILL. It's got to be cold and miserable, searching for a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean.

Frobisher celebrated Thanksgiving as a homecoming. He hadn't died in his quest, and he was back home. It HAD to have been a miserable trip, and he was GLAD to be home, I'm sure. Even if home was Newfoundland and Labrador, also cold (although lovely, I'm sure).

Each day, before I start my readings for Disciple, I write down items of gratitude, to keep my eyes open to God's work in my life. Sometimes the day is cold, and spotting those moments of gratitude is difficult. It's not that they aren't there; it's just that my attitude is wrong to find them. I keep thinking and looking, though until I find them.

For what are you grateful, each and every day? Do this in remembrance of him, for gratitude helps us to remember him.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Morning Prayer

Today was Children's Sabbath at our church. Our sons were asked to participate in worship, along with the other youth of our church. All of them did a fanstastic job.

Grant composed and presented the morning prayer. He wrote it himself, and while I did read it before he participated in worship, I didn't change anything about it....

Dear God;

All of your children, big and small, young and old, boys and girls are here to praise you on this fine Sunday morning. On this Children's Sabbath your children have prepared themselves to worship you wholly in the way that they can the best. We give you our hearts, souls, minds and our strength, so you can transform us into what you need us to be. Let us do our best to put you before everything and praise your name. Call for us when we become distracted and lead us back to your path. We are all your chidlren, God, so please show us how to spread your holy name to everyone on this Big Blue Marble. We love you. We'll talk to you later, but right now we will pray the prayer that your gracious son taught his children....

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Life Changing Moments

Friday Five from RevGalBlogPals:

This has me thinking of the special rites of passage in our lives which we participate for ourselves or in which we support and bless others: baptism, confirmation, marriage, ordination, graduation, funerals, etc. Such important days, so exciting and joyous, but also sometimes anxiety provoking or deeply painful....So, this week, please share five memories of such sacred moments with God and her holy people from your life and the lives of those you love.

As I made my list, I found myself remembering life changing moments -- sacred, I suppose, because of the change.
  1. I remember by baptism, and I remember reading scripture as a seven year old in the Presbyterian church we attended.
  2. I remember the afternoon when Steve proposed -- December 29, 1985, in the park. "We all have dreams..." I supposed I would call it a sacred moment because of how it changed our lives.
  3. On the heals of that, I remember our wedding -- July 18, 1987.
  4. June 8 and August 31 -- the days our sons were born.
  5. October, 2005 -- a month when God walked with me and my faith grew to something different.


Friday, October 09, 2009


This one is going to be a stretch and perhaps a little strange, but it's a connection that occurred to me today as I was reading for Disciple.

In Genesis 15, God and Abraham are having a discussion about God's promises to Abraham. God instructs Abraham to bring animals for a sacrifice. He follows God's instructions. As he prepared the animals, he cuts them in half and lays them on the ground. I thought it was an odd thing to do until I read the notes in my study Bible. It was a practice of the time -- the animals would be split, and then those making the covenant would walk between the pieces. It was symbolic -- if one of the two broke his promises, he was saying that he would agree that he should be split like the animals.

Glad we just shake hands now.

As Abraham sleeps, God walks between the split animals, assuming sole responsibility for the covenant. He will be faithful, even in the face of our unfaithfulness. He knows us very well.

God taking responsibility for the covenant brought to mind his greatest act of love. He sent his son to us. The Word was with God, the Word was God, and then the Word was with us. I don't mean to imply that the God was split through the incarnation, but it reminded me of God -- as God and as Jesus, accepting full responsibility for the covenant because we have broken it.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009



Wednesday, October 07, 2009


A few years ago, I was driving home through our neighborhood during a power outage. Everything was dark dark dark. We so seldom see real darkness. I stopped the car and turned out the headlights, then I turned off the car. All around me was darkness -- nothing was visible. I didn't stay this way very long; I realized that if I couldn't see anything, then a car coming behind me (I was stopped in our street) couldn't see me.

For some reason, all of the streetlights in our neighborhood are now off. As I was walking the dog last night, I realized that the only light on our streets was cast from people's porch lights or the meager light shining through their windows. In places where porch lights hadn't been turned on or where houses were empty, the street was very dark.

Christ is the light of the world. We shine that light for others to see. When we fail to do that, when we hoard the light to ourselves, then we leave others in darkness. And, really, what purpose does light serve if it is not allowed to shine?


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Spider web at Cedar Lakes


Monday, October 05, 2009

Bible Study

I've mentioned that I'm now part of a Disciples class. It feels great to be involved in Bible study much more than I have been in a while. It isn't always easy to get the reading done, but I'm enjoying the process.

I've set up a routine for each reading. I'm taking notes on what I read (because that's my habit; it has been for a while). Before I start reading, I right a phrase or two about what is going on during the day, and then a sentence or two of what I'm grateful for. Even on the worse day, gratitude is a grace.

I was knitting the other day on a shawl I'm making. I was looking at how much there is to do, and thinking that the whole thing was a whole lot of stitches. And then I laughed to myself. What did I expect? It's a shawl made of knitted stitches. Did I really think I could make a knitted shawl without knitting? In fact, it's the knitting that I look forward to.

Disciple is a lot of reading, but I started this in order to do Bible study. Seems silly to fuss about the reading, when I started this to do the reading!

Can you tell that getting the reading done today was just a little more complicated? By the time I got to circumcision -- well, I just didn't care. ;-)


Sunday, October 04, 2009

In Remembrance

I attended Pastor's School this past week. Rev. Janet Forbes led worship for two services. She told us of traveling to the Church of Pennant Melangell. She called it a "thin place" -- a place where the space between God and her was very thin, and she felt very close to God.

Places can be like that. Events can be like that.

The last day of Pastor's School ended with a communion worship service. God felt close. For me, it was a "thin place." As pastor after pastor came forward for communion, the pianist played a song with the a phrase asking God to fill his lambs. I was stuck by the responsibility of praying for these whom God has called to lifetimes of ministry. Fill them up, Lord.

After communion was over, and the elements were restored to the altar table, I looked down. We were sitting on the front row, right where the server for our side of the room had stood. On the tile floor were drops of grape juice. They looked like drops of blood on the tile floor.

Jesus bled and died for all of us. Do this in remembrance of him.


Saturday, October 03, 2009

A Front Moving In


Friday, October 02, 2009

In the same boat

Rev. Bob Wilkins delivered the sermon today at our Covenant Council meeting. He opened with a "rowboat" story. It seems that there was a flood in a particular town. Three men survived the flood waters by sharing a rowboat. As they were floating through the waters, the man in the backseat pulled out a manual drill and began drilling a hole in the bottom of the boat. "What are you doing?" yelled the man in the middle of the boat.

"What do you care," said the drilling man. "The hole's not under your seat."

We are connected. What we do affects other people.

I was reading the story of David and Bathsheba for Disciple today. Don't you love to read something and see things that you have never seen before? That happened several times for me today.

For the first time, I noticed Joab's message to David about the battle. David had ordered Joab to send Urriah to the front lines to be killed. Joab did as David had ordered, but it meant that other members of the army were killed as well. Our sins have consequences; sometimes, because of our connectedness -- because we are in the same boat, our sins have consequences for OTHER people besides ourselves.
Image: Lake at Cedar Lakes; fog rising

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

World Communion Sunday

World Communion Sunday altar, decorated this evening -- 3 hours. I'm tired!

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