Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Have you ever been tired but just not ready to go to sleep? I'm getting ready for a week away for conference. This means leaving many things in the capable hands of my husband and our grown son. It also means lists. I have packing lists and 'to do' lists. I have responsibilities for our pre-conference event and I am preaching one of the evening services. During my sermon there is a brief skit. So my car is very full with props, supplies for the pre-conference event, and a few food items for the room, and I haven't even added my suitcase.

Right now I'm just tired.  I know I have a few more things to do in the morning and I'm still not happy with the way the tires sound, even after getting them all balanced and rotated. I just want to be  tired enough tonight to sleep and not let all the things coming up this week and next to fill my mind.

I think it is time for Compline; my choice for evening prayer. Maybe I'll lay out just one more thing so I won't forget it tomorrow, then some cold milk and bed. Goodnite all.

p.s. I've added the link to the conference webcasting. The congregation is using the webcast worship service for our worship on Sunday. (Worship begins at 10:00) Anyone who wants to see/hear my sermon can watch the Tuesday evening webcast. (Worship begins at 7 p.m.)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Set Face

In post Civil War America, a man was walking through rural Pennsylvania. He was headed home to Richmond, Virginia and looking forward to his reunion with family he had not seen in some time. He stopped to spend the night in a boarding house then sat at the dinner table with other boarders. They began to share travel stories of all the places they had been and seen. It was a turbulent time and many former soldiers had stories from western states no one else had visited. But all the young man could talk about was his home in Richmond. He was soon excluded from the conversation and left completely alone after dinner. The other guests were northerners and did not want to hear repeated tales from the rebel state They just couldn't socialize with him because he had set his face on Dixie.

A possibly intro to this week's Luke text in chapter 9. Will it work?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Still...after all these years

I still like this new background. This is good.
I am still drawn to the psalms after a decade of reading them each morning. This is good since I'm preaching on Psalm 42-43 tomorrow. I first encountered the depth of feeling in this psalm when my father was dying of cancer. I couldn't face the fact of his impending death because it felt like I would be giving up on him to admit he was losing his battle with the disease. I was in my 20's and not ready to face loss. (pre-CPE. . .) I remember sitting next to him on the couch and seeing the words, "When shall I behold the face of God?" and realizing they had a very different meaning for him.

The gift of theses two psalms is the psalmist's expression of trust in the Holy One voiced even at a time when God's divine presence cannot be felt. I remember reading that St. Teresa of Avila waiting 18 years, praying everyday and yet experiencing only God's absence. How does one wait 18 years? I think even a day of 'feeling' God is gone would be devastating and yet some of you, like this psalmist, wake up and wonder, "Where is my God?" I know historically this was the taunt of oppressors; the Babylonians who captured the Israelites and deported them to a strange land away from the Temple home of God. And it is still a taunt or maybe a challenge from those who say, "There is no God, how can you believe in a God who would allow. . .disaster, crisis, and death?"

What answer can we give? That we all die? That each day brings us a step closer to death no matter when it comes. Or can we remember the times when God felt near, when we "led the procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving"? Can we look out at the deep of the sea and and look up at towering mountains and see the 'hand' that commands night and day? Such trials are the challenge of faith. They are the hard times. They are times when we need friends to have faith when we cannot. We need friends to believe and to pray when we have lost our ability to do so. These times make the strongest case for Christian community or any community of faithful response to the Almighty.

The Brethren's Pietist roots fall short of our Anabaptist, community-oriented roots when a crisis of faith hits home because we need each other. It is only in the company of someone who will sit with you and bear the presence of God for you, that brings hope into the experience of divine absence. With a friend by your side perhaps you can say,
"Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God for I shall again praise him, my help and my God."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Things I like.

I like coffee in the morning, or pretty much anytime of day. I like the recycling truck because it takes my trash away but I know it is not headed for a landfill. I like time in the morning to read the Bible and devotionals and then to study and read for general interest related toy calling.

Today I'm taking time to give thanks for a few things I like.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Time for something new.

Blogger's new template designer offered me a change so I'm trying something new on the background. At the congregation we are trying something new and old this summer. For a few weeks in June and August we will have two preachers per service. I and someone from the congregation will each preach a meditation based on the texts for the day. It is a different way of reviving the old Brethren tradition of having several people share a message. We won't have comments following one sermon but will each have the opportunity to share from our hearts and from God's Spirit.

I'm excited to hear what God is doing in our midst as the Spirit moves.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A look at the Unity Service; PICTURES

A few pictures from last Sunday's incredible worship service are here for your viewing. More can be found on Facebook. I could follow just enough Spanish to see where we were in the scripture. (That's Pastor Portillo reading on the left. I was totally lost when Pastor Kaysarn and others read in Khmer.

And yet there was a sense that one could understand. It wasn't the direct words, just knowing the scripture, which was heard in all three languages and reading body language, helped us comprehend.
I told the whole story of Lazarus after the scripture was read. Then all three pastors took turns preaching followed by special music from each congregation. The children were really involved but I don't want to post those pictures.
This is Pastor Kaysarn preaching.
"Oh for a thousand tongues to sing" in Khmer. How appropriate!

We have no trouble following Pastor Portillo! Everyone can feel the spirit move during his powerful preaching!

A full sanctuary and the use of technology added to the ease of transitions and the different kinds of music.
We sang "What a friend we have in Jesus" in all three languages at the same time.
Then there was food!
A picnic:
Arlington COB cooked the hot dogs.

And there has to be SPRING ROLLS!
Food, fun, fellowship, all the right ingredients for a summer afternoon.

And ALL God's people said, AMEN.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cultures mix and God's Spirit moves

Sunday was an amazing service of 3 congregations who worship at 300 North Montague. 3 languages, 3 styles of worship, 3 very different types of music, 3 theologies (or more). What was the same was the love of God and the SURE sense that Christ's spirit was 'moving in our midst'.

Pictures were taken and I'll try to get them up here and on facebook tomorrow. Thanks be to God.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Yes, I believe that. . .

No lectionary text for this Sunday. Instead, John 11 will be considered by three pastors from three different traditions for our UNITY service. All three congregations who worship in the same building will share a service of prayer and praise. It is a good thing, even when its hard for us to understand each other. So here's my brief meditation on Lazarus. 

(First, on an unrelated note, I just got my copy of Alan Roxburgh's Missional Map-making, have you read it? Let me know what you think.)

The story of Lazarus being raised from the dead is a powerful one and it is difficult for us on many levels.
First, it is hard to imagine such a dramatic miracle. It is just hard for us to get our heads around it.
“What did it look like?” we want to ask. Did Lazarus look like a mummy when he walked out? 
Our minds can come up with all kinds of questions to imagine the scene. And the truth is, these questions can distract us from the real message that Jesus promises “Is for God’s glory.”

Then there is the whole crisis of life and death which the story reminds us of. How often have your prayed or thought like Martha and Mary,
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother/sister/ spouse/child/friend, would not have died.”?
We pray, we ask and yet we all die. Some of get a long life and some lives are cut too short.
And when someone we love dies, we weep and we cry out to God.
From this snapshot of Jesus’ feelings, we know that God hurts with us, just as Jesus wept for his friend.
Life and Death go hand in hand. It is our ULTIMATE reality.

Yet the key point for us today is found in Martha’s confession of faith. Jesus tells her,
“I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” AND THEN HE ASKS, “Do you believe this?”

Whew, how imposing; a direct question from the Lord about what she believes, and it falls on our ears as a question of faith, “Do you believe?” . . . How do we answer this?
Martha answered, “YES, Lord, I believe that YOU ARE THE MESSIAH,

-Notice she doesn’t talk about her brother here.
-She doesn’t go back to her assertion about what Jesus could have done had he arrived earlier.
-She doesn’t quiz Jesus about what he means by “the resurrection and the life”
            or how does that  “never die” work?

What she does is to STATE HER FAITH,
“I believe Lord, that YOU ARE the MESSIAH.”
            …the promised one, the Son of God”.

Here in the crisis of deep grief, she is able to say what she believes. Her confession of faith (as we call it) shows us her TRUST.
It is a trust for living and for dying.

DEEP and ABIDING TRUST, is the message we take from this incredible miracle story today.

            Because if we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, then we can face death without fear.
We don’t have to understand everything that Jesus meant by “resurrection and life”. We don’t have to know all the specifics of what “Never die” means, or how it looks, or even whether it means,
            The moment we die
            Or sometime later
            Or at the very end of all time.
Because IF WE BELIEVE in WHO Jesus us, then we live trusting in the ONE who sent him.
And IF we can face death, with complete trust in the One who ‘holds us in Divine hands’, then
WE CAN FACE LIFE, each and every day of LIFE with trust.

            THIS is a TRUST that says; “Yes, Lord, I believe” so I can look at each day as if it is my last and be content to live that day trusting in YOU.

            THIS TRUST that says, “Yes, Lord, I believe” so I can risk of telling someone else about this Messiah in whom I trust.

            WHEN WE trust and live each day with confidence, we are able to hear God’s voice and go where God calls, even when its SCARY, because our hope is in ONE who lived OUR LIFE and faced torture and even death.
Our Lord offers us HIS HOPE and the sure knowledge that trusting in him, will be enough.

            ENOUGH, it IS enough to trust, for now, for each day, AND for whatever comes tomorrow.

“Do YOU believe this?”