Friday, December 28, 2007
What I didn't expect to see was an ice fishing shack with a burnt orange paint job and big "T" painted on the side on Forest Lake up here in Minnesota.
We see the strangest things when we're not looking.
John saw Jesus coming to him to be baptised. It was his calling to prepare people for Jesus' coming, not to prepare Jesus.
But John accepted the unexpected, and allows us to see GOD in the unexpected.
The voice from the heavens: "This is my beloved Son"
The dove from above
The Christmas visitors we didn't expect.
The friends and family who didn't make it home for Christmas, at least not to our home.
A Savior born to Shepherds, and truck drivers, and garbage collectors and tax collectors
Salvation for poor young women, and carpenters, and prostitutes, and priests.
A Texas ice shack, seen by an Aggie. (What is it I'm doing in Minnesota!)
Letters from good friends, and old friends.
A savior who came for me.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Why? is the question many of us ask around Christmas, when we suffer loss, especially around Christmas, when the world tells us to be happy, and merry.
I'm convinced that God still speaks to us. It's just that as we get older, we get hard of hearing.
Children must still be able to hear God, I've heard too much wisdom come from children.
This child, Logan, gives his account of God's answer to that eternal question; Why?
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
How wonderful! How Beautiful!
The sign at church said "Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile objects, but look what they can do when they stick together"
When frost turns to a coating of ice, no more flakes, just a solid mass of frozen water, it aint pretty anymore.
Mom and dad are without power for the second day, following an ice storm that has crippled the mid section of our nation. The new agencies are saying that it may take up to 1o days for some people to get power, and it's December! Dad bought a generator in preparation for the storm, and Mom stored up water. They have enough food to last quite a while, but what if you didn't get a generator, and you house doesn't have a fireplace?
How aweful, how dangerous,how deadly.
It's amazing how the form or amount of water can make such a big difference.
Water brings life, and beauty, and cleanlieness.
Ice and floods bring death and destruction and disaster.
It's still just water, just too much in the wrong place.
The living water that Jesus promises is always just the right amount in just the right place. The frost on the trees, the rain that nourishes the crops, the river that fills our taps. Enough to share, enough to live, and to live abundantly.
God sends us what we need, even when the world sends ice storms and floods.
God sent a child when we needed a savior.
No need for a soldier, God sent a Son.
Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel!
Sunday, December 02, 2007
One of the looks, of course, are the Christmas lights that decorate the houses sometime after Thanksgiving. I admit, I like the lights, but there are people who add a little more bling to thier yard than I appreciate. The proliferation of huge holiday inflatables is one tradition I don't intend to start in my own yard.
So, when we were driving home one evening, and saw a rather tiny yard with about 20 inflatable santas and more lights than JFK airport, my inner decorator cringed.
Jonah piped up from the back seat, "Mom, isn't it bee-u-ti-ful!" in the unadulterated accent of a four-year-old. Miriam "oohhed" from her perch in the car seat.
It was pretty, and I had dismissed it as overload.
Even yesterday, driving home in the snowstorm that put a damper on our pre-school fundraiser, Jonah declared again, "It's bee-u-ti-ful!"
To the heart of a child, zipping up a coat, the first snow, and a glass of chocolate milk are reasons for celebration.
May my eyes be cleared of the haze of age and adversity, and see this season with the eyes of my children.
A baby, lying in a manger, cold and alone, is always "beu-u-ti-ful!"
Friday, November 30, 2007
To the bishop who held the wine chalice for my then two-year-old son at communion: "I no yike dat". Same son, now 8, can't wait for communion!
To the Seminary President who asked in a children's sermon, "Why do we pray before meals?" middle son answered ,"So the food has time to cool down." This does help explain the belief that one need not pray over cold food.
Noah, the one in the middle of the photo, sees God's hand in everything. He usual prayer at bedtime thanks God for "Everything you have created and everything you will create." Sort of paints God who Was, who Is and who Shall Be in full color. Noah finds the story of Jesus in most of his books, and loves to tell the story.
Jonah, on the right, considers God to be as real as Grandma. Heaven is someplace not too far away and full of good food, because God might get hungry. Jonah's God gets sad, and happy, and hungry. After discovering that he came from mommy's baby belly, and mommy came from Grandma's baby belly, Jonah stated that the very first people must have come from God's baby belly. This dovetails very neatly into his belief that God gives all babies hearts so they can love God.
Miriam, the little one on the right, is hanging on every word her brothers say. She joins in prayers at mealtimes, with her "Jesus, Amen" and sings Hale, Hale, Hale, Luiah, in the car on the way home from wherever. It won't be long before her precious sayings are gracing this blog.
I wish I could say it was because we are pastor/parents that our kids are like this, but I don't think so. I'm not even as good as my parents were at getting our kids around the table for Advent devotions. I remember listening to a little devotion at breakfast in the morning as a kid, and we're lucky to pray over breakfast. (It's usually cold food, you know!)
I think it's because we talk about God as one of the family. Sure, this member of the family created the world and all that is in it, but Jesus shows up at the dinner table and back-seat conversations. We have several bible story books at home, but we also read Dr. Suess and the Berenstine Bears.
In other words, don't think it's only the Pastors Kids who say this sort of stuff, it's the ones who ride in the back seat of your minivan. It a good reminder to remember that whatever you say, they hear!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The thing is, I don't think Dad did much in the way of raising pigs. Or at least he wasn't looking when momma pig was trying to wean particularly persistent piglets. My middle son got caught in the middle when the pig did fly, right into the side of his face. Apparently weaning piglets are pretty big, and pretty dirty. Jonah came home from the farm with mud on his cheek, in his hair and down the front of his shirt. Ouch!! and Uugh!!
Along with "once in a blue moon" and "when pigs fly", "God only knows" is one of those times that's never really supposed to happen, so don't even think about getting ready for it, or even getting excited about the possibility of, say, a brand new car.
Jesus gives the same answer when the disciples ask about the when the end of the world is coming. God only knows when the Son of Man will come again.
“When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.
Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.
So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming."
This time, Jesus reminds us that God Does know! God just isn't telling anyone else. It's a secret, but it will happen, so wake up and be ready.
People will be eating and sleeping, working and slacking off, right up until the moment Jesus returns. I remember being sure that Jesus would appear in the corner of my third grade classroom, as well as my brother's 1st grade classroom, and at home with mom, all at the same time. We'd better be ready!
We pray for it each week, and especially in Advent.
Stir up your power, oh Lord, and Come!
Friday, November 09, 2007
Jonah declared that we are the luckiest because we have two bathrooms in our house! And we have three sinks, and so many windows!
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
We are so valuable to God, and sometimes we forget. It is good to be reminded just how lucky we are.
Thanks be to God for two bathrooms, three kids, lots of windows, and enough food for at least a week.
Monday, November 05, 2007
For Melanie and Fred and Lynn,
For Bonnie and Brian and Lyle,
For Ina and Arnold,
For Dorothy and Stanley,
For (insert names here of your Saints)
We remember this week, all those who have completed thier baptisms and gone home to Jesus.
Thanks be to God for their guidance and wisdom and strenght.
Thanks be to God for the promise of Eternal Life, and for memories.
Be with all those who are still here, and hurting because there are holes in our hearts where friends and family used to be.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Ok, my in-house kids are 2 and 4 so the whole trick-or-treat thing is still a mystery so we can get away with 3 (yes three) homes this year.
#1 is Great Grandma and Grandpa Morlock: in the nursing home, two boxes of raisins for three costumed cousins. Hey, it's always good to go to a nursing home!
#2 is Grandma's neighbor who is still raking leaves when we actually arrive. Tow small bags of M&M's for being the first of the night.
#3 is Alice the Gorilla. Alice appears for two hours each year and will provides scares and a Recees or two if, and only if, you bring canned food. Luckily Alice can tell the difference between a ten year old and an 2 year old and was just a little surprising, not scary.
So what did my kids learn? That dressing up and giving away food is better than getting a bunch of candy that mom won't let you eat anyway! We gave a washer and dryer away this afternoon, so reinforced the lesson.
I apologize if you don't celebrate Haloween, but it's hard to be in the world, not of the world, without dressing up one night a year.
I'd rather focus on giving (like the UNICEF boxes) and remembering those who have gone before. (latino Day of the Dead does this really well)
Jesus knew all about dressing up like a mummy and walking around: first his friend Lazarus, and then he did the same trick! He knows we need to just have fun sometimes, and that we do need to remember those who have died.
So, On this All Saitnt's Day, give, love and keep on Living!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
A psalm of David.
1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.
The world and all its people belong to him.
2 For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas
and built it on the ocean depths.
Fruit, shade, a place for a swing.
Then, homes, boats, and a place to sit.
Finally, heat, which is going to feel more and more necessary in the next few months in Minnesota!
The logs that had been cut split into smaller pieces so neatly, it was as if it were made for that very purpose. It was just beautiful to see the inner structure of a couple old oaks that had seen so much, but had died in the yard.
God made us just as beautifully.
We each have our calling and our gifts to be shared with others.
How will you split?
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
I'm preparing for a sermon this Sunday on the Mustard seed/servant reading in Luke 17:5-10.
I'm always stuck on the seed, the mustard seed, because I have held them in my hands when my mother was canning, and I know they are not as small as, say, a carrot seed.
But the plants do grow larger than carrots, or lettuce. It is, perhaps one of the smaller seeds grown as a crop. Flax is smaller, and slipprier, and a whole 'nother sermon could be written on that seed.
So what's the deal with the mustard seed, and faith?
The deal is you've got all you need.
God gave it to you as a gift. Remember "my grace is sufficient?"
The second half of the lesson reminds us that we don't even deserve what we've got.
The disciples asked for more faith please.
Jesus says, use what you have and you can do anything!
We are so wrapped up in more is biggering and biggering and biggering, that we forget that we have all we need, and more.
That slip of faith that you recieved as an infant at the font
The kernel of faith that you found in the darkness of life
that small spot of light in the darkness of this world is enough to share
So, spread those mustard seeds around. Share your faith, and your future
Monday, September 24, 2007
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
We are constantly being cultivated by God. The weeds that grow in our life; fears, angers, addictions, media, meanness, are being pulled out by the roots and thrown aside. We probably don't even see most of the threats to our faith. The ones that are closest to us are the hardest to pull. That job has to be done by hand. It can hurt to pull out the habits that seem to define us, but really defy us.
Have you cultivated your faith this year? Pull out the weeds and feed and water the good stuff.
Friday, June 22, 2007
There was a guy in Gerasa who was pushed out by the others, sent away, even tied up to keep him in the sticks. Apparently he had some trouble in "normal" social situations. What troubles he had exactly we don't know but by the time we meet him he's ready to go off the deep end.
So Jesus shows up. Hops off the boat after crossing the lake and calming the storm. And this naked guy comes up to him and shrieks "Why are you bothering me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?" For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirits to leave.
Off the deep end they go, indeed. A whole crowd of demons take the pigs for a ride and jump off, into the sea. Gone, forever. Our Naked Man is now dressed, quiet and ready to follow Jesus wherever he goes. He is free.
He didn't ask, he didn't pay, he was just freed. In fact, he couldn't have asked for himself, he was that deep in the drink. Like the woman who had washed his feet, Jesus freed her of her sin before she asked. It is the sins that we don't acknowledge or perhaps even know about that really tie us up. The stuff we won't or can't or just don't confess before God and our neighbor.
But Jesus forgives us. For his sake we don't have to be tied up in chains, locked in a tomb, hidden away. We are free to tell others what God has done for us.
That is the request. Not an order, but an imperative: "Go home and tell what God has done for you!"
Monday, June 18, 2007
So, seeing all those rows of berries in the straw makes a whole lot of sense. And a whole lot of good eating!
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Jesus told this story: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. Some of it fell on the road; it was tramped down and the birds ate it. Other seed fell in the gravel; it sprouted, but withered because it didn't have good roots. Other seed fell in the weeds; the weeds grew with it and strangled it. Other seed fell in rich earth and produced a bumper crop.
"Are you listening to this? Really listening?"
This monday the kids and I planted our garden. Yes, it's the first week of June but we finally got around to it. We planted pea and bean seeds, squash, carrot and beet seeds, and then we went to bed. Jonah looked for the plants the next morning. No new plants. There were a few beans that had washed to the surface with our watering, but no sprouts. Then on Tuesday we bought some tomato plants. They are already 6 inches high. We planted these in the garden as well and it makes it look like something is growing.
For seven years I have been in ministry (officially). In those years I have been planting seeds. It would be nice to be able to go back the next day and see the fruits of God's story in the people I have cared for, but sometimes the sprouts are late. Sometimes the fields move away, or I move on and don't see the blooms.
Sometimes I get to see God's growth in the world. Sometimes there is a spurt of growth that fails after the sun goes down. Sometimes it takes hold in good soil and bears fruit a hundred fold.
Plant your seeds anyway! We might get beans and peas this fall, who knows??
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Now, however, playing in the puddles, the sprinklers and the pools is an every-five-days occurance. (it takes that long to get back up to 85) Which means my kids are always coming in dirty. M especially likes to play in the dirt and J gets sand in his hair on a regular basis, N is starting to smell like a teenager!
Every night, I give them a bath. Every morning, they get dirty.
Does God ever just breath a big sigh when we walk down the aisle from baptism or communion and think, "will this ever end?"
Seventy times Seven, or forever and always. God will wash us clean from our sin. And just as many times we will get dirty again.
Thank God for enough water for a bath or two each day!
Thank God for kids who can go outside and play and get dirty!
Thank God for forgiving me when I get dirty, since I can not stay clean on my own!
Friday, May 11, 2007
The winds of life blow us around too, unless we are tethered to something stronger than the wind. The knots that tie us to Christ and the unmovable foundation that is His Love are many and varied.
A child's smile
An Elder's thanks
Songs of praise and thanksgiving
Psalms of lament and fear
Knowing that someone is holding the other end of the rope who loves us with a strength greater than any tornado, hurricane, flood or fire.
Peace to all who are blown about by the disasters of this world. May you find strength and comfort at the end of your rope.
See more pictures of Greensburg Here.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Dump trucks full of "dirt" were the hit of the party. He and Miriam spend so much time in the dirt in the backyard it seemed appropriate.
He is always smart and wears his helmet. Click here for more pictures
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Friday, April 06, 2007
He did it, you know. My son. He lifted up the low and brought down those who were haughty. He was Love. He loved those shepherds who came on his birth-day. He loved the Kings who foretold his reign and his death.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
The night that changed the numbering of the world is ostensibly Christmas Eve, the night Jesus was born. Remember the B.C. and A.D. lables we used before politically correctness changed it? Not that that question of "When" or "How" Christ was born will ever be answered completely for the critics. The "Why" seems clearer to me:
He was born so that Shepherds would feel like Kings, and Kings would come running like sheep. He was born so Love would have a face and fingernails like each of us! I think Mary knew that He was born because " To know, know, know you, is to love, love, love you." And he does, love us that is. His whole life is an expression of God's love, and a perhaps over-the-top attempt to get us to understand that love, and to live in that love.
Why did people clamor for his meals, and scorn his dinner partners? Why did women beg for healing, and powerful men plot against him? Why did he connect with those who needed him the most, and alienate those who should have been able to spot the Messiah coming a millenia away?
Because he came for love, not power. He came in kindness and not in contempt. Jesus walked this earth with us, for us and among us, not above us. Jesus loves us, this we know. That's what the Bible keeps saying, in all of the stories, in all of the laws, in all of the songs. God love us and keeps loving us even when we don't love back.
That's why the sun stopped and the curtain tore and the earth shook. Love is powerful; more powerful than rulers and kings. More powerful than earthly constructs and contracts. The loss of Love for just a few moments was more than the earth could take. Love so strong that even the Devil couldn't keep it away from you. Why Easter Morning comes every year, every day, even if someone finds the bones of Jesus.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
It is nearly Easter, and God's spreading salt on the road for an end-of-the-season snowstorm. It's really sleet, but looks like the little round beads that come out of a beanbag.
I have an old picture of my brother, sister and I with my Dad and a big Snow Bunny. Sometimes it does snow at Easter. In half of the world, Easter falls in the winter and Christmas comes "after the flowers" in the summer.
But the Good News is that Christ is Risen no matter what the weather. No matter what images we can or can not use to the about the mystery of Ressurection. Even today. on Holy Week Tuesday!
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
It helps to know that Jonah, like his brother Noah has been welcome at the communion table since he was about one. He's learning what it means to be part of the family of God as he sings and prays and eats with his brothers and sisters. We too often think that kids "that young" can't understand what is going on in worship. I think that often they understand more than we do, just because they are willing to ask the questions we adults think are not good questions.
Dad's answer was that the blood would taste like grape juice. Jonah figured that that was good, he liked grape juice. What does the body and blood of Jesus taste like? I spent half of a day with 18 fourth graders at Zion learning about communion in accordance with local tradition. They had some good questions too. So did the parents, I expect, but only one was brave enough to actually ask.
We all learn about God's love by experiencing it. I believe that Jesus said "this is my body" and "this is my blood" to everyone at his passover table, including the youngest child who gets to ask the most interesting questions. I still don't understand exactly what he meant by that statement, but I believe it none the less.
Ask, and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened!