Sunday, April 29, 2012


In his sermon this morning, Joe said that the word "healed" in this verse (Acts 4:9):  "if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed," has more than one meaning.

It can mean to heal or to save.  It can mean to protect from harm, to rescue, and has the same root word as the word salvation.

Isn't that interesting?

Can you imagine how the words healed and saved are the same?  Doesn't that add some dimension to both of the words?

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Scars of His Love

He sat outside,
the heat of the day beating into his skin.
The wall at his back was rough
digging into his tunic.
The ground where he sat was hard

As he had been
Eight days ago,
when he had left the other ten,
When he had struck out alone,
in desperation.
He had been empty,
and he had sought emptiness.

Upon his return to the Upper Room
he had been told that his Master had returned
Risen from the dead.
That he had been alive and with them.

The news had been like
tales of rain in a drought,
thoughts of healing for a leper,
The scars of loss had been too parched
to admit any possibilities of grace.

He had held on to the loss.
It had been safer.
And he had been unwilling
to hear the sound of anything else.

Now, today, Thomas sat outside
having encountered the risen Lord.
He had seen the Rabbi’s scars,
Heard his voice.
And Thomas had believed.

He stared at his own hands,
remembering the look of the Master’s hands
where the nails had pierced the flesh.
The scars of the Master’s love
had left him breathless,
and finally,
he had opened his heart
To the flood of the grace offered.

He had believed.
“My Lord and my God.”

Inspiration from John 20:24-28 and from the line, "The scars of your love, they leave me breathless" from the song Rolling in the Deep by Adele.

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Friday, April 27, 2012



Last night we spent several hours helping our younger son to bring his vision of the Underworld from the Aeneas to life in a board game.  I'm proud of him.  He planned it -- drew the game on paper, designed the parts, planned the use of his time well, and stuck with it until it was done last night.  I think his efforts show that he is maturing in his ability to take responsibility for his work.

And the ghosts dancing on wires are cool.  As is the fortress.  And the names each ghost has.

Anyway, I was listening the radio the other morning, and the talk show host said that everyone agrees that the ultimate goal of parenting is to raise happy kids.

Is that the ultimate goal of parenting?  I don't think I agree. 

For me, the ultimate goals of parenting might include ideas like raising a child to an adult who can use the gifts he has been given to serve others and God, who can demonstrate maturity and responsibility, who can lead a fulfilling life, who has found his niche in the world where his greatest desires meet God's greatest needs, who finds love -- both ways to give it and receive it, who can develop a relationship with another human partner, who can place the needs of others above his own, who can fulfill his potential.

I think all of this will lead to a happy and joy-filled adult.

Moving a child toward these goals does not always lead to a happy child.  An unhappy child is sometimes the temporary consequence.

Having said that, as I raise children, along the way, I want them to feel safe, secure, comfortable with themselves and happy.  It's just that temporary happiness is not my ultimate goal.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Questions from Sunday's sermon by JtM:
  1. Where have you seen evidence of the resurrection of Christ? 
  2. Can others see evidence of the resurrection of Christ through your life?
I see evidence of the resurrection every day, all around me. I can only pray that others see that same evidence in someway through my life. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012


The Friday Five from last Friday:
  1. Do you use social connections, like Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in or whatever else there is? Describe how you use it/these.  I use Facebook.  I don't spend a lot of time on it daily, but it is useful for several reasons.  It keeps me in touch with family and friends, and it helps me to keep in up to date with what is happening across our Annual Conference.  It's a great tool.
  2. Do you text on your cell phone? Work, friends, family?  Yes.  Yes, yes and yes.
  3. Do you play any games? Which ones?  Yes.  Solitaire, Words with Friends, Bejeweled, Collapse.  My evil older son got me involved with iSlash.
  4. How do you predominantly use the various electronic devices you possess?  I use my laptop daily for all of my computer needs.  I use my desktop when at work, and those two machines are connected through Dropbox.  I use my iPad for email, web browsing, Netflix, and word processing/spreadsheets.  It doesn't do everything a full-fledged computer will do, but it is easy to transport.   I scan all church meeting documents into Dropbox, and then just carry my iPad to meetings.  That way I don't have to keep the hard copies (or print them out, unless I want them).  I have also stopped buying books -- I read electronic books.
  5. How do you feel about blogging? Are you as involved in blogging as when you first started? What facilitates your blogging?  I still blog, but not quite as faithfully as I was - not strictly daily.  That change is not related to electronics, but instead to my lack of discipline in study and reading.  I need material for my blog, and I'm not being as faithful to acquiring it.  I continually resolve to change that, and hopefully, I'll do better.  I blog from Blogger on my desktop or laptop.  I can also blog from my iPad using BlogPress. 


Mark 12

I attended a district training event today.  The class I took was entitled Preaching the Gospel of Mark.
We took a closer look at a passage from Mark 12:28-34.  In this passage, a scribe approaches Jesus and asks him which commandment is the most important.  Through the class, I discovered a few things I hadn't known before:
  • This is the only instance in Mark when a member of the religious establishment is asking Jesus a question without an ulterior motive
  • The answer Jesus gives him is also found in Deuteronomy.  The answer he gave the scribe probably did not come as a surprise.  The scribe already knew it.  What was revolutionary to the scribe is Jesus' authority and power
  • To quote Gary, "The Mark Gospel tells of an authentic exchange with a seeker who is trying to learn what his faith means.  When he comes to a understanding, it affected those around him."


Friday, April 20, 2012

Vital connections

A Friday Five from RevGalBlogPals:
  1. How do you intentionally make a vital daily connection with God? What roots you and gives you life?  I wish I could say that I am good at this, but I do feel most connected when I do daily devotional time, read/study with regularity, attend my reunion group meetings, attend Bible study ... it's nothing extraordinary, but it requires discipline.  It's kind of like sensible eating and exercise.  It's not a glamorous answer, but truth.
  2. Do you have a favourite space/ place that you go to?  I have a chair in my office near a window where I will read devotional -- it's like stepping away from my desk and from my regular routine.  I like to go to the chapel in the church where I work for times of prayer. 
  3. Is there a particular passage, phrase or prayer that brings you immediately into God's presence?"Be still and know...."
  4. Music- essential ingredient or distraction- discuss  Yes.  Both.  Sometimes silence for prayer, sometimes musics brings me into God's presence.
  5. Silence and solitude or engagement with like minded others? Yes.  Both.


Thursday, April 19, 2012


I'm at a conference in San Francisco.  The attendees participated in a banquet tonight; I had dinner with (along with others) a gentleman from St. Louis.  His father was a Lutheran pastor.  When I told him that I was a United Methodist, he said that he admired the Methodist faith because of its commitment to social ministry (ministry is my word).

He's right, though.  Wesley's faith was one of social holiness.  I told him that it was built into our DNA.

Did you know that after the Genone Project to sequence the human DNA, scientists now think that only about 1.5% of our DNA codes for proteins? 

I hope our Methodist DNA from Wesley for social holiness is not a silent, untranslated DNA -- I hope it codes for our proteins and is put to work in this organism that is our church.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Today's blessing

Today's blessing -- our youngest son preached today.  He did a wonderful job.  The sermon title was Believing is Seeing.

Thank you, God, for blessings such as today.  Amen.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cleansing the Temple

I'm teaching Sunday school tomorrow.  The scriptural basis is John 2:13-22, which is the cleansing of the temple.  Here are a couple of questions from the lesson:
  1. Is there anything in our house of worship that fills up our space and keeps us from worship?  I wonder if our preconseptions of worship might keep us from worhsip, sometimes.  What about our invovlement -- or lack of involvement? Busyness?  Schedules?  Distractions.
  2. Can you think of any way we keep people away from God?  Expectations of how people should look and act, expecations of style.  Schedule. 
Just a few early thoughts.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter season

I've heard twice today the idea that Easter is a season, not a Sunday.  While I understand that based on the liturgical calendar, I wonder what that means in practice.

The Easter season -- what does that mean for us?  What happens after the resurrection?  The disciples are locked in a room, fearing life without Jesus.  Thomas, who can't stand it all anymore, leaves.  The Easter season has uncertainty and loneliness.  Do we experience that?

In the Easter season, Peter has to live with his betrayal of Jesus.  He learns about forgiveness on the shore of a lake, over a campfire.  Do we experience that?

In the Easter season, the disciples witness the ascension of Christ.  A miracle.  Do we experience that?

What is part of our Easter season?


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Let Go

Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher).  Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"  John 20:16-17

Do not hold on to me.  Jesus asks Mary to not cling to him.  Why would that be?  I doubt he really thought she could prevent his Ascension. 

Perhaps, instead, he thought that her dependance on him could prevent her fulfilling her potential.  It was time for her to let go of him and move onto what was next -- the ministry for which he had prepared her.

Do we do that?  Do we cling to the past that we loved, the person who is important to us so strongly that we can't move forward to do what we are called to do?

As parents, we need to let go.  As children of God, we need to let go -- not of God, but of what would prevent us from following him.


Sunday, April 08, 2012


Our church e-publishes devotionals all year long.  During Advent and Lent, the devotionals are sent out daily.  The most recent one my husband wrote was about holding tightly onto something.  You can read it here.

Here is a line from the devotional:
What things in our lives are we holding to so tightly that we are unwilling to let go? Afraid to let go.
About the time his devotional was sent out to our devotional group, we talked in staff meeting about a woman who was exploring what it would feel like to assume a position of crucifixion -- not actual crucifixion, of course, but arms spread wide.  She lay in a field, her arms outstretched.  The only word she could use to describe it was "vulnerable."  She felt vulnerable.

It seems to me that someone, like Christ, in the position of a cross is vulnerable.  He could hang onto nothing.  He couldn't even hold onto his life. 

Love like that makes you vulnerable.

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Thursday, April 05, 2012

Magic Hour

I have an app on my phone called "Magic Hour."  Have you heard of the Magic Hour?  It's the time when the sun is between 6 degrees above the horizon and 6 degrees below the horizon.  It's a great time for photography, because the light is great. 


Wednesday, April 04, 2012

He Understands

David, in the Lenten sermon today, said that he would interpret "Jesus wept" as "Jesus understands."  What we are going through -- whatever challenge we find ourselves in -- Jesus understands.

Jesus understands.  What does it mean to understand? Is it an intellectual comprehension of what is happening to us?  Does he understand our situations, like I might try to understand what my teenage son is experiencing?

More.  Jesus "gets" it.  He has been in our shoes.  He has become human, and he knows what it means to be tempted, to lose a family member, to be disappointed, to be happy in the company of friends.  He understands, because he has entered our lives.  In the midst of it, he cried.  He has stood in our place, in life and in death.


Tuesday, April 03, 2012


As Joe, in his sermon, described the anointing of Jesus by the woman with the perfume, he drew a sensury image of Jesus covered in the perfume. Imagine how the smell of the perfume must have covered him -- from that evening, through the Last Supper, the garden, the trials and the crucifixion.

Have you ever been anointed?  Set apart?  Commisioned?  Do you think of how the anointing should carry it sent with you, anywhere you go?  We should be covered with the scent of the anointing, even wihen the world is diferent.


Monday, April 02, 2012

Burn the Ships

3While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. (Mark 14:3)

Read the verse again. Have you ever noticed the phrase, “broke the jar”? Our Associate Pastor, Rev. Joe Hill, preached this morning. The scriptural basis of his sermon was this passage from Mark. A woman anoints Jesus with a costly perfume. Joe pointed out that once she broke the jar, there was no going back. Once she broke the jar, she couldn’t go halfway, and save some of the perfume for later. She couldn’t change her mind. She was “all in.”

There is a song from many years ago, written and sung by Steven Curtis Chapman that comes to mind. Chapman opens the song with the story of Cortez. When the Spanish explorer landed near the site of Veracruz, he ordered that the ships be burned, to prevent any idea of retreat. Cortez was “all in.”

Burn the ships, we're here to stay
There's no way we could go back
Now that we've come this far by faith
Burn the ships, we've passed the point of no return
Our life is here
So let the ships burn

When Jesus walked into Jerusalem, and crowds placed palm branches on the ground and shouted Hosanna, there was no turning back. He was “all in.” Jesus had commited everything – his love, his time, and his life to the mission God had given to him.

Do we have that kind of commitment to the task God has set before us? Do we burn the ships or do we maintain a dinghy for escape? Do we walk the tightrope without a net, or do we let fear guide our steps? Do we hold back, not daring to break the perfume jar, or do we sing, “I Surrender All” with our lives?

Do we trust God enough to follow in the footsteps of Christ and go “all in”?


Sunday, April 01, 2012


So here we are, you and I, together in this wilderness.  For our purposes now, let’s call that wilderness “life.”  In our sinfulness, in our life here, we are separated from God.  We are lost.  In that setting, hear the words from the Lectionary reading from Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 1-6:

It wasn't so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn't know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It's a wonder God didn't lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

 In our wilderness – in our sin – God sent his son to save us.  To find the lost, the broken, the one in the desert of loneliness, the one in the prison of hatred, the one in the pain of illness, the one in the terrible condition of sin – to find you and me, and to redeem us.  To bring us home.

You are not alone.  You have been saved by the God who created you from imagination and breathed life into you.  You have been saved by the love of a God whose very nature would not allow him to leave you alone in the wilderness.  You have been brought home from exile.  Sing about it.

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