Sunday, April 29, 2007
Little Church on the Desert surprised me with a huge going away party last night. We had SO much fun and I still can't get over what a great job they did in hosting this party. It felt great and they were so generous and kind.
This morning was my last day as Interim Pastor at Little Church. I will miss this congregation a great deal. I feel very energized for my new ministry at Big Church and appreciate how my family has experienced hospitality from congregations both near and far.
The kids and I fly out to our new home on Tuesday morning.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Sorry for all the depressing posts the last few days. Here is something to liven up your Friday afternoon:
Friday Five: What Are You...
Burgundy dress and black dress shoes (I have that memorial service later today).
What I am going to say to the class of 4 & 5-year-olds about "death" when I go meet with them in a few minutes.
Blogs. The newspaper. Emails.
Of a good night's sleep.
Nothing so far this morning. I've had a couple of cups of coffee. I am not your health guru.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Today was supposed to be my last day in the office at Little Church on the Desert. I expected to have everything out of the office (except for what I needed to preside on Sunday morning). But yesterday the director of Little Church's preschool met me at the door to say that a student in Miss Maria's 4-year-old class experienced a family tragedy on Tuesday evening. The father of the family died suddenly in the Emergency Room at our local hospital. So I am still here in the office, trying to write a message for the memorial service we are holding tomorrow afternoon.
Here's what I know:
He was a young man (49)
He was not ill -- he was just having a hard time recovering from the pneumonia he had back at Christmas
He leaves behind 2 young daughters and a wife
He will be sorely missed
And so I am still working. And I will work tomorrow, as well. In addition to the memorial service, I will travel to each preschool classroom to talk with the students about this death and about the death of their classmate last week. All of my service books are on a moving truck. My black Geneva robe is already hanging in the closet of my new office at Big Church. I am not complaining about this; though it would have been nice to have a day to myself before the Big Move. It is more a wistful feeling -- here I have been worrying about this move and this family has the true concern of the loss of their husband and father.
In other news, it looks like we will get out of Dodge before the temperature hits 100 degrees...
Monday, April 23, 2007
Two years ago I became a mother for the second time. How could I ever love a child as much as I love my son? Well... I love my daughter just as much. She is my light and she is a clever, silly, mischievous girl. I admire her spirit and her humor.
I returned late last night from my candidating weekend at Big Church in medium-sized Midwestern city (still looking for a good blog name for this church). The weekend was so fun, the worship service was magical, and the best news... my call to be the associate pastor was approved! Yay! And 'phew'.
Each and every person I encountered this weekend was great. My APNC folks are a blast, and my new house is going to be perfect (at least it seems perfect when a friend and I were peeking through the windows to see the empty rooms). Oh -- and a new Target is opening just down the road from our new house on October 14th. God is truly good. I love Target. My friend and I have plans to be there for the grand opening. Hee hee.
And this all happened not a moment too soon. The moving company arrives tomorrow to pack up the remaining items and will return on Wednesday to load the moving truck. Oh boy! I may be a sporadic blogger for the next couple of weeks.
Thanks for all the support and good wishes we have received in the blog world and in person! You all are great.
Friday, April 20, 2007
A child who attended the preschool at Little Church on the Desert died today. He had a diffuse pontine glioma, which is an inoperable brain tumor. He was three years old. Please keep this family in your prayers.
I just read that Billy Graham's son, Franklin, said that the young man who committed the murders at Virginia Tech "was filled with evil."
I have no argument with this being an evil act, carried out by a deeply sick and disturbed individual. I have no difficulty affirming that we live in a fallen, sinful world. I can only begin to imagine the depths of grief and suffering that the family and friends of the victims are experiencing.
But I keep thinking about Cho Seung-Hui's mother. She knows he was not always filled with evil. Twenty-three years ago, he was a baby, being rocked to sleep in his mother's arms. He was her precious little boy; he trusted her to provide him with love and care. He is still God's precious child, no matter what. That is hard to remember, in the face of mental illness that results in horrific tragedy.
It does not help this situation to present Cho Seung-Hui as nothing more than a cold-blooded instrument of Satan. That makes it too easy to dismiss what has happened. That lets us off the hook too easily. Gun control and mental health care and compassion are still needed in our world. We can't give Satan power by ignoring the ways in which a massacre like this calls our society to account. In this mess, I believe that Christ calls us to strive more and more to be God's people in God's kingdom.
May Christ have mercy.
Franklin Graham: Satan Behind Virginia Tech Killings
Evangelist Franklin Graham said Cho Seung-Hui, the killer at Virginia Tech University, was "filled with evil,” and that Satan is responsible for Monday’s mass killings of 32 people at the Blacksburg, Va., campus.
Appearing as a guest Wednesday on Fox News Channel, Graham said the need for healing is great in a community shattered by a madman’s shooting rampage.
"There is a big spiritual need here,” Graham said. "Kids are questioning, ‘Did God abandon us? Why did God allow this to happen?’ . . . They need love, they need our prayers . . . They need a touch from Almighty God.”
Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, sent 20 chaplains from his ministry’s Rapid Response Team to the Virginia Tech campus to help students, faculty and staff deal with their emotions in the wake of the massacre.
Graham placed the blame solely on Satan with Cho as the instrument to carry out his evil deeds. "There is evil in the world, no question about it,” Graham said. "I believe Satan, the devil, is behind this … This young man was filled with evil. There’s no way to describe the fact that he could go and murder this many people and do what he did without this man being possessed by an evil spirit who brought this carnage on this university.”
Graham said he would counsel forgiveness among the students and families touched by the horrific murders.
Songbird says: This week I've been watching parents of the young people slain at Virgina Tech trying to make meaning out of the lives of their lost children, and each one seems to begin by focusing on something joyful about that child. It's a gift that most humans have brains wired to respond in that way. For some of us it can be harder to work our way out of dark places, but I believe joy remains the key. It is the spirit of resurrection. Tell us about five people, places, or things that have brought surprising, healing joy into your life.
I must be brief this morning.
3. MY SPOUSE
4. MY SON
5. MY DAUGHTER
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
I am probably the only person in the blog world who has not commented on the tragedy at Virginia Tech. So many have written and prayed so eloquently.
I can only offer this. In the fall of 2002, there was a college shooting at the University of Arizona. My alma mater. My baby brother was attending UofA at that time (he still does; he will finally graduate this spring).
I heard about the shooting on the radio, while driving home to our KY manse. The feeling of dread and panic and nausea that came over me is hard to describe. When I finally reached my brother by cell phone, there was peace that the tragedy had not directly impacted our family. And the sickening realization that our relief in his safety meant someone else's family was hearing the worst possible news.
I'm sure many folks connected to VT are having that realization today.
May Christ have mercy.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Uh oh... some 'expert' in this article recommends a sticker chart. My mom won't like that... My mom doesn't believe in rewarding kids for anything.
Many parents admit they bribe their kids
By MARTHA IRVINE, AP CHICAGO -
Call it a reward, or just "bribery." Whichever it is, many parents today readily admit to buying off their children, who get goodies for anything from behaving in a restaurant to sleeping all night in their own beds. Often, the rewards are for behaviors their own parents would have simply expected, just because they said so.
The new dynamic — sometimes seen as a backlash to that strictness — has some parenting experts wondering if today's parents have gone too soft. "It's definitely more our generation," Kirsten Whipple, a 35-year-old mom in Northbrook, Ill., says with a quiet laugh. "I'm sure our parents would be appalled if they knew how much we bribe our children." She can see why they might be — but she and her husband try not to overuse rewards and have found they work best for smaller things. For instance, they might offer their boys, ages 5 and 8, a special dessert or a chance to rent a video game if they listen to their baby sitter. A good report card might earn a dinner out to celebrate.
Whipple has noticed a downside though — what she calls a "sense of entitlement."
"Often times, it leads to good behavior with a question attached: 'What are you going to give me?'" she says. That's part of what worries parenting experts. "I think that reward systems have a time and a place and work really well to help develop capacities — if we need them to go above and beyond," says Marcy Safyer, director of the Adelphi University Institute for Parenting. She remembers how, as a child, her own parents promised her an ice cream if she could sit quietly through religious services. "But what often gets lost for people is being able to figure out how to communicate to their kids that doing the thing is rewarding enough," Safyer says. Feeling rested in the morning, for instance, could be seen as the reward for not getting up at night. "Instead, parents are paying their kids to get good grades; they pay their kids to go to sleep, pay their kids to be toilet trained," Safyer says, meaning payment as a material reward.
Parents and experts alike agree that the dynamic is partly a reflection of the world we live in — where many families have more than previous generations. It's unrealistic to think a parent wouldn't reward their children with material things sometimes, says Robin Lanzi, a clinical psychologist and mother of four who's the research director at the Center on Health and Education at Georgetown University.
"But you want to make sure that they match the behavior, so it's not something huge for something small," Lanzi says. She recalls hearing about a father who offered his child a Nintendo Wii game system for scoring a couple goals in a soccer game. "There's always this upping the ante," Lanzi says. "What was a reward 20 or 30 years ago is a whole lot different than it is now."
Elizabeth Powell, a mother of two young daughters in Austin, Texas, knows what she means. "You want to raise them in a way that they're respectful and appreciate things," Powell says of her children. "But sometimes, you wonder now if kids
appreciate even a new pair of shoes." That was something she remembers being a big deal to her as a kid — as were the ice creams and 45 rpm records, or very occasional trips to McDonald's. These days, she sees children negotiating to get things in a way she never would've dreamed of. "A lot of my friends, I see them cave, just like I have a tendency to do — just to get them to be quiet," Powell says. She and other parents agree that striking a balance with rewards — and not giving them so often that they mean nothing — is the goal. Powell sometimes lets her 5-year-old daughter shop at a store she likes, if she behaves for an entire trip to the mall.
She doesn't want it to become an expectation. But she also concedes that having two kids has made it more difficult to stick to the ideal, especially in public settings. "There are times when you have a second child, and you've got to change a diaper. And you find yourself telling your (older) child that 'I will do anything you want if
you will just stand here and behave,'" says Powell, who's 34. "Sometimes, desperate situations call for desperate measures."
Those who specialize in child behavior say they hear those kinds of stories from parents all the time — and often try to suggest methods that don't involve material rewards. Sometimes, "because I said so" is still a valid tactic. But for something
like sleeping in their own bed, Safyer suggests putting stars on a chart for each night the child is able to stay in his or her room — and then making a big deal about the progress. "Parents' pride in their children goes a long way," she says. Claire Lerner — director of parenting resources for the Washington, D.C., nonprofit Zero To Three — also recalls a couple whose child would only brush his teeth if he got a reward. She suggested the parents emphasize the benefits of just getting it done. "To have a power struggle takes up a lot of time and eats into the bedtime routine," Lerner says. "So you can tell them that if they brush their teeth, 'We have time for an extra book or an extra lullaby or five more minutes in the bath' — whatever it is they really love. "That's a real-life consequence."
More Cows just wrote a post that got me to thinking... what is the best class you've ever taken? Many of my readers went to seminary, so maybe it was a seminary course. Please share your something about your favorite class, seminary or otherwise...I took a class in seminary about the Eucharist, which was one of the best. (My worst class was Greek, hands down. I received an A+, but the professor was teaching the exact same course in 1998 as he taught in 1968! Seriously, his handouts were purple mimeographed sheets. Pathetic). I also took some good pastoral care and pastoral counseling classes and some great theology courses. But my worship classes have helped enormously in my congregational ministry.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
My friend Little Mary tagged me with this meme. I am to name six weird things about myself:
Saturday, April 14, 2007
- 1st appearance of the San Diego Chicken
- deadline for filing 1974 Federal Tax Returns
- Josephine Baker dies in Paris at age 66
- Pat Boone performs on the "Dinah Shore" show
- "Flight to the Moon" ride at Disneyland closed
- Argentine polo player Adolfo Cambiaso is born in Cañuelas, Buenos Aires
- Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge
- #1 song on the radio is Minnie Riperton's "Loving You" (la-la-la-la-la)
- Stephen Sondheim musical "A Little Night Music" opens in London
- Dune voted the all-time best science-fiction novel
- Brett is born in Rock Valley, Iowa
Friday, April 13, 2007
When our son was a baby, my Aunt Susan sent him a package of gifts. She included a set of three sippy cups. For a couple of years, these were the only cups my son would drink from. We lost one at a restaurant early on, so then we only had two. We hand-washed those cups so often that the painted ducky and doggy pictures wore away from the plastic. Any discount store I entered in those years warranted a close inspection of the baby supply aisle, to look for more of these cups. We never found any. Evidently these "Made in China" beauties were unique.Two summers ago, we took the kids to meet my grandmother before she died from the effects of Alzheimer's disease. I discovered that Grandma was using a cup like the ones my son loved so dearly. I guess they had originally been a set of 4; my aunt had held one back when she sent Thomas her gifts. Grandma reluctantly agreed to trade her sippy for a more generic Gerber-brand cup. We left Ohio one precious chalice richer that summer.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Now that we are preparing to move out-of-state, we are being inundated with social invitations. We had dinner at one family's home Friday two weeks ago, and dinner at another's on Sunday two weeks ago. We went to an Easter festival in Guadalupe with a friend from the university on Good Friday. We have plans tomorrow for dinner, this coming Sunday at lunch, Monday at dinner, Wednesday at lunch, Wednesday at dinner, Thursday at dinner, Friday for a wedding reception and the following Saturday for dinner. We may never cook again. And someone just paid a social call to me at the office; he even brought me a coffee from Starbucks.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
A sermon for a baptism. John 20:19-31.
Baby Timothy. This is your special day. Though this baptism is a one-time event, living into this baptism is a lifetime undertaking. Thankfully, you will never be alone in your journey. Right now, you are two months and thirteen days old. It is unthinkable to imagine that you will ever be able to do anything by yourself. Right now, all of your needs are provided for you. Your mother wonders if you will ever grow so big that you will not fit in the crook of her arm. But you will keep growing. You will begin to crawl, and then walk. You will learn to talk. And along with saying, “I love you, Mommy; I love you, Daddy”, you will begin to say those famous toddler words: “I do it myself.” But even as you grow out of that comfortable place in your mother’s arms, you will still need to sit on her lap and get hugs and kisses and reassurances that everything is okay.
We all need reassurance. This passage from John, read just one week after the exciting, exhilarating news of Christ emerging alive, unscathed, from the tomb, is one that brings us back to reality. Thomas needs reassurance in our passage for this morning. Poor Doubting Thomas. Of all the bad luck; the day that Jesus shows up to prove to the disciples who he is, the day Jesus comes to their home to show the proof of the truth of the resurrection, Thomas is somewhere else. We are not told why Thomas is not present. Just that he is not there.
Poor Thomas. He has received such a bad rap for all these centuries. Being called “Doubting Thomas” – though all he really wanted was the same proof that all the other disciples had been given through Christ’s presence. We talk about doubt as if it is a bad thing. Baby Timothy, there will be times in your life when your parents will say to you, “What made you think that riding your muddy bicycle across our white carpet was a good idea?” or “Just because your friend Dylan said those mean words, what made you think you should say them as well?” We demand acceptable behavior from our children. We want them to learn to be reasonable, to make good choices, and to think through their decisions so that can become rational, intelligent adults. Frankly, we want our children to have doubts and demand proof. We don’t expect them to just “trust” that algebra works; we want them to memorize the rules of mathematics and apply them to the homework problems in their textbooks. Timothy – you should learn this early, I guess – that the world is full of mixed messages.
But the one thing, the one person, the one truth that does not contain any mixed messages – our Savior. Yes, Jesus does tell Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe?” But the other disciples had seen this same proof only a week before. And obviously those other disciples had not sufficiently assured Thomas of the truth of the risen Savior. But Christ comes to him anyhow. Even with his doubts and his demands of proof, Jesus comes to Thomas anyhow. And invites him to touch and see and know the truth of the resurrection.
Timothy, your Aunt Patti is here this morning. In a few moments, I am going to ask her the following question, “Do you promise, through prayer and example, to support and encourage Timothy to be a faithful Christian?” The term that most people use for her role in your life is that of “godmother”. This conjures up images of Cinderella’s fairy godmother – “bibbity, bobbity, boo” – and your problems are erased with a flick of her wrist and the magic of a wand. There will be times in your life where Patti will wish she could be that kind of godmother; removing your sadness or distress with just a wish. But she is committing to something more difficult than that; Patti is agreeing to be a spiritual mentor for you. Being a godparent means sharing your love, your time and your concern with a child who has a special place in your life and in your heart. Parting of supporting you in the life-long journey to becoming a faithful Christian means supporting you, and evening encouraging you, in and through your times of doubt.
Timothy, after I talk with Patti, I am going to turn to the congregation an ask them: “Do you, as members of the church of Jesus Christ, promise to guide and nurture Timothy, by word and deed, with love and prayer, encouraging him to know and follow Christ?” When they respond with an emphatic “we do”, they are promising to be accountable for your Christian nurture and religious education. If we can count on your parents to get you here most Sunday mornings, the people gathered in this room will be the ones who teach you the stories of our faith. They will celebrate as you grow in both wisdom and in years. This is your Christian family.
There is a song from the Christian band Caedmon’s Call titled “Shifting Sand”. Some of the lyrics include these words, “My faith is like shifting sand ~ Changed by every wave ~My faith is like shifting sand ~ So I stand on grace ~ I've begged you for some proof ~ For my Thomas eyes to see”. The band members have said that “this song is written from the perspective of someone who realizes his own weakness in regards to his faith. Like all Christians, he struggles with feeling strong of heart one moment, and faithlessly succumbing to his own desires the next. By the end of the song, he has realized that the foundation for his relationship with God is not his own faith, which wavers, but God's grace, which doesn't change.” The God who is present today at your baptism is the same God who encouraged Thomas to speak out and ask Jesus for proof. Thomas sought out God. May you, Timothy, also seek God’s face.
What is happening here today, Timothy, is not a miracle cure. Baptism does not mean that you will be Teflon coated and always protected from the evil and sin that remains a part of our fallen world, I am sorry to say. What is happening this morning is that you are joining this family of faith. We have never been a perfect bunch, we Christians, throughout the centuries and around the world. But we are yearning, together, to have such faith in the risen Christ. We are inviting you to join in that yearning.
There is an old and silly story of a Presbyterian and a Baptist who were arguing over the question of the “proper” way to baptize. The Presbyterian says, “Tell me this. You're a Baptist. If a man goes into the water up to his knees, is he baptized?” The Baptist said “No, he is not.” “Well if he goes in up to his waist, is he baptized?” “No, he's not.” “If he goes in up to his shoulders?” “No.” “Well, suppose he goes in clear up to the top of his head, is he baptized then?” “Yes!” the Baptist said. “Ah,” said the Presbyterian, “you see, it's the water on top of the head that counts!”
But it isn’t really where the water strikes your body, little Timothy, it is who surrounds you when the water is applied. This congregation knows that I tend a little towards the Baptist – I like to really drench those who are being baptized. Melissa can attests to the fact that I ruined her beautiful hairdo on the morning of her baptism last year. But I want everyone present to see that water is messy. Water is the symbol of life – when you get soaked to the skin, you become more aware of your body and your presence in your own God-created body. It makes this moment really real – just as seeing the wounds in Jesus’ body made the truth of the resurrection really real to Thomas and the other disciples.
When we see the baptism of this baby, let us each reflect on our own baptisms (whether we can actually remember them or not); because this is the proof we demand, as well. By participating in this holy symbol, we are affirming our own faith in Christ and assuring each other that we will have life in his name. Timothy, welcome to this family of faith. On behalf of your brothers and sister in Christ around the world, we promise to do everything we can to witness to the truth of the resurrection.
Let us pray: By water and your Word, you claim us as daughters and sons, making us heirs of your promise and servants of all. We praise you for the gift of water that sustains life, and above all we praise you for the gift of new life in Jesus Christ. By your Spirit, revive our faith in your mercy, and strengthen us to be the body of Christ, serving all children who come to this place to receive your grace. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
I received this from my husband's Aunt Evonne. Anyone is welcome to play!
1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Yes, my first name (Alexandra) is my mother's middle name. Our ancestor was Alexander Hamilton.
2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? Easter, during the 9:00am service, listening to the choir anthem.
3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? NO -- I am left handed and have awful handwriting.
4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCHMEAT? honey ham
5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Yes, my two wild babies
6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? I hope so!
7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? much to my mother's distaste, yes
8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? yes
9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Oh my, no. Too afraid of heights.
10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? I rarely eat cereal, but used to love Corn Pops when I was a kid.
11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? no
12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Emotionally, physically or spiritually? Sometimes, a little, and yes.
13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? peppermint, at Amy's Ice Cream in Austin, TX
14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Which bumper stickers they have on their car.
15. RED OR PINK? definitely red
16. WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? My crazy skin and my worrying.
17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My grandmother and my mother-in-law (though I never met her)
18 . DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU? sure, please play this on your blog
19. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING ? still wearing a pink nightgown
20. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? a piece of cake after dinner last night
21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? the birds through the open windows and Bad Cat eating her breakfast
22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? kelly green
23. FAVORITE SMELL? fresh grapefruit juice (not to drink, but to smell!)
24. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? Rachel
25. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? Yes!
26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? figure skating (I know, I'm such a girl)
27. HAIR COLOR? not as blonde as it used to be
28. EYE COLOR? very blue
29. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? no
30. FAVORITE FOOD? brie and crackers
31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? NO scary movies -- Brett will tell you that these give me nightmares
32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Whatever I watched out of the corner of my eye that Brett was watching, some sort of robot movie
33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Still the pink jammies
34. HUGS OR KISSES? hugs
35. FAVORITE DESSERT? dark chocolate
36. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? "Lying Awake" by Mark Salzman
37. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSEPAD? A cartoon of a cat sitting on a computer
38. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT? Brett watched the home opener of the Diamondbacks beating the Reds.
39 FAVORITE SOUND? Lily's feet slapping against the floor as she dances
40. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? BEATLES, all the way!
41. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? somewhere in Eastern Europe, would need to consult a map
42. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? I don't think so
43. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Beautiful Mesa, AZ
44. WHOSE ANSWERS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING BACK? Anyone who chooses to respond
Monday, April 09, 2007
Disclaimer: Most Pastor Nominating Committees are quite thoughtful and kind...
As most of you are aware, I have accepted a call to a new church. In my process of discernment, I turned in my PIF (Presby-speak for resume/dossier) to a few PNCs (Presby-speak for pastoral search committees).
The ones who decided to reject my PIF all sent the following rejection email or letter:
Dear Rev. Alex,
On behalf of the PNC at First Presbyterian Church, we would like to thank you for your PIF presentation. We know that much thought and prayer was utilized in the preparation of this document. After prayerful consideration, the PNC has chosen to move in a different direction. We appreciate your interest in our search for a pastor. It is our sincere hope that God will continue to guide you in seeking His call to do His work.
Yours in Christ,
First Presbyterian Church
EVERY. SINGLE. PNC. Sent the same letter. Obviously, a sample of this document must be in some Presbyterian handbook somewhere. But come on now --you think that pastors won't notice that you are all using the same letter? Tsk Tsk.
Coke complaint delays Jesus film
An Italian film which features Jesus drinking from a can of Coca-Cola will miss its Easter release date after the drinks giant complained. Seven Kilometres from Jerusalem tells the story of an advertising executive suffering a mid-life crisis when he meets a man who appears to be Jesus. In the course of the film, Jesus drinks a can of Coke, and the ad man exclaims: "God, what a great endorsement!"
Coca-Cola said permission to use its trademark had not been granted. "We don't think it's appropriate to use the subject of this film to create publicity for our brands," it said in a statement. "We advised the producer of this in writing, and are very disappointed that our request was not respected."
The drinks company asked for the scene to be cut, but the director and producers argued that changing the film would be costly and time consuming. After a week of legal wrangling, they have now been forced to postpone the Good Friday release date as the film is re-edited. Producers say it could be up to three weeks before the film hits cinemas. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/6527427.stm)
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Friday, April 06, 2007
The first time I saw her, she was in the back of the sanctuary. The light was behind her, so I could not see her face very clearly. She was bald, so she wore a hat. She walked with a cane. Her skin looked grey and translucent. My immediate thought was, "She will be one of my hospice patients very soon." I was doing pulpit supply at Little Church on the Desert long before I would serve as their interim pastor. My first glimpse told me that she would not live very long. I recognized the fragility, the other-worldliness of someone who already had one foot in heaven.
The next time I saw her, she still had the hazy, heavenly aura. But her hair had grown and she was arranging crafts in the breezeway so the children could create Christmas cards for shut-in church members. She wore purple sandals and and matching purple jeans. She looked adorable. I realized that she was in her early 40s, not her 70s, as she appeared at first glance. She was fashionably thin; I later learned that when many of your inner organs are removed, you tend to look the way "Vogue" says healthy women should. But she is not healthy.
In my time at Little Church, she has been in fair shape. After suffering through three separate bouts of cancer over fifteen years, her body was getting a break from the constant chemo. The past couple of years have been a fallow period for the cancers. She brings me flowers at least once a week; little bouquets of wildflowers she collects from the desert near her home. She places the flowers in pretty bottles and jars she saves from olives and fancy lemonade. She ties the bottles with scraps of cloth and ribbons. She is one of those who is always at church, sorting through Sunday school curriculum and making sure that the preschool has enough stickers and stamps for each season of the year. She has a label maker -- every shelf and box says "5th grade VBS" or "Advent costumes" in inch-high blue lettering.
She is the unacknowledged "flower fairy". At least twice a month, a glorious arrangement is placed in the front of the sanctuary, with a little card instructing the interim pastor to announce the recipient of the surprise gift. Whenever the Flower Fairy visits on a Sunday, I can see that the congregation is waiting excitedly to hear who has been selected. The reasons for the flowers are often obscure, but perfectly imagined. "The flowers this morning are for Marie, because she trapped ten mice in the kitchen." "The flowers are for Wayne -- he cleaned all the gutters and drainpipes." The men are more excited to be chosen that the women, though there has been a low-level grumbling over the use of the term "fairy". I know she arrives at the church before 6 in the morning to prepare these flowers.
On Wednesday of this week, she sent me an email that said, "My oncologist has my test results. She wouldn't tell me over the phone. We all know what that means!" I could only reply with a few shorts phrases of encouragement, and an "I love you". This morning I learned -- metastatic ovarian cancer. It felt like a blow to my chest.
There is a popular self-help book right now called "The Secret". It preys on that sinful idea that if we are good, good things will happen. If we are bad or "negative", bad things will happen. Thankfully, our Savior tells us that this "secret" is not true. On this Good Friday, I am so angry that evils like metastatic cancer exist in this fallen world. I am so angry that a fifteen-year-old boy will learn, for the 4th time in his life, that his mother is very, very sick. She is very good, and this very bad thing happens to her over and over. A genetic fluke. Her father and sister have already joined the Church Triumphant under similar circumstances.
She could not come to the Maundy Thursday service last night. She had a biopsy done yesterday and the sedation had not worn off sufficiently for her to attend. But she already knows the mandate we speak of on that night. She lives the commandment to love as Jesus loves. She serves as Christ serves. She humbles me.
"Now my soul is troubled. And what shall I say! Father, save me from this hour. No, this is why I came to this hour! Father, glorify thy Name. There came therefore a voice from heaven: I have both glorified it, and I will glorify it again. Now is the judgment of the world, now will the prince of the world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all things to myself."
Merciful God, you gave your Son to suffer the shame of the cross. Save us from hardness of heart, that, seeing him who died for us, we may repent, confess our sin, and receive your overflowing love, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
I am posting some comments from an adoptive parents forum I am part of. I am not surprised that Disney is still in the dark ages when it comes to adoption issues. I will not take my kids to this movie, at least at this stage of their development.
We feel that it is important to warn you about a Disney movie called "Meet the Robinsons" that is now playing at many local cinemas. The advertising for this animated feature makes it sound like a great movie for any young child. Fortunately, one of our adoptive parents alerted us about the negative adoption messages in the story and the very unhappy experience she had with both of her children who were very greatly disturbed by the messages conveyed in this film. As a result, I went to see the film to decide if it warranted putting out an alert to our adoptive parent community. Indeed, I thought that the concerns raised were completely valid.
The movie is filled with extraordinarily inappropriate messages about adoption. The basic story is about an adorable baby whose birth mother leaves him on the doorstep of an orphanage. Portrayed as loving, sweet, extremely smart and overly appealing, he spends the next 12 years of his life wanting a family and being turned down by one family after another - in all, 114 couples refuse to adopt him. One scene shows a prospective dad losing interest in adoption because this very smart little boy is more interested in science than sports. The prospective parents leave the disappointed child in a huff when he accidentally splatters them with some liquid from his science project. This is supposed to be funny. Since no one else wants him, the child invents a time machine in order to go back in time to find his birth mother. The "bad guy" in his time travel journey turns out to be his best buddy from childhood, once his orphanage roommate. Now an emotional wreck resulting from being left behind when the orphanage was closed and shut down, the once-cute orphan is now mean and devious. Another chuckle. Various monsters attack the child as he continues his birth mother search. You get the picture.
I found "Meet the Robinsons" to be both tasteless and totally insensitive regarding adoption issues. Please think very carefully before taking your child to see it, whether adopted or not. I will write the Disney Corporation to let them know about my concerns about their flippant way of dealing with issues that are extremely important and not funny for millions of adoptees and their families in this country and around the world.
ETA: This statement is from Vicki Peterson, Executive Director of External Affairs, Wide Horizons For Children adoption agency.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Check out this article in our local paper. To: email@example.com
Here is the response my lovely husband wrote to the reporter:
Dear Ms. Fernau:
On Wednesdays, I always read the food section first. I enjoy the restaurant reviews and the recipes, which I often use since I am the principal cook in our family. I saw your headlining article about Easter dinner and sidedishes. The recipes were fine, but the premise of the article promotes untrue and dated stereotypes about ministry. You write: "Nobody knows this holiday tug-of-war better than pastors and their wives." The implication is that pastors are men. Not all pastors are men, and not all have wives at home who cook their food. My wife, the Rev. Alex, is the pastor of Little Church on the Desert in Phoenix. Part of the job of being a female minister is fighting the kinds of stereotypes that you present in the article. As her spouse, I also reject that the role of "pastor's wife" is a category that we should continue to accept as a society. Your article would have been equally tasty--and more enlightened--if you had not perpetuated gender roles from generations past.
Very truly yours,
I'll keep you posted on any response we get from the paper. Isn't he the best?
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Monday, April 02, 2007
Remember this woman? For some reason, she and I were the first ones at the lunch bunch today. We had about 10 minutes alone before the other women arrived, so we chatted. Actually, she chatted and I listened. Like a good little pastorita, I asked questions about her family (by name), about their vacation (yes, I remembered where they went) and other specific questions about her life. She blabbed along happily. Finally, she turns to me and says, "Are you planning having a family anytime soon?"
Now, I have attended the Monday Lunch Bunch AT LEAST 50 times. She has attended AT LEAST 25 of the times I have been in attendance. I don't expect people to remember every detail about my life, but she didn't know that I have kids? The other members of the group regularly ask about Thomas & Lily, and I ask about their children. I was stumped. I don't expect to be the center of the universe (though it would be nice :))... but how can one woman honestly be that clueless?
Paging Paris Hilton -- a woman in Phoenix stole your brain!
Oh, my heart is breaking. One of my favorite, favorite teenagers from Little Church on the Desert auditioned to be the marching band drum major at Gigantic High School. She was one of seven finalists, but was not the student chosen for this honor. She is trying her best to handle the disappointment with grace and dignity. But, good grief, it hurts!
I feel pretty stressed about getting everything done for Holy Week. Little Church on the Desert is a busy place this week -- we have a ton of meetings, including two more interviews for youth directors. I am feeling a little overwhelmed with all I need to get gone.