Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Recap

Christmas was interesting this year.  I truly was not looking forward to it in any manner, shape, or form.  I was just looking for ways to get it over.  I did not want to do anything and just wanted to stay home and veg.  Well, I guess it is just such times that surprises occur!

The week before Christmas totally sucked.  I usually don't like to use that term but it is pretty applicable here.  We were working, quite possibly the most busy week of the year, short handed.  And, of course, the customers were idiots.  Some day I will have to post about that, but not now.

The Christmas sermon was a rerun, not that I didn't try to write something.  But after dealing with the wonderful crowds and the early hours at work, I didn't have anything  left to give.

The Christmas Eve service went well.  Nick played the prelude.  We had a member play the flute.  And we had some teens from the congregation playing the guitar.  It was nice.  I felt kind of lost in the whirlwind, but I guess I need to be thankful for people who can pick up the ball and run with it!

Christmas Day involved going to NIck's  sister's house.  Again, I really didn't want to go but had a good time!  How could you not have a good time when you leave with a pooping reindeer and one of the activities involved a reindeer race??  :-)

Unfortunately, I had to open at work the next day, so it was up and at 'em at 4 am on Saturday.  What is getting sad is I forgot to set my alarm and I was still up before it was to go off.  Work was a bit much as I had to open the store from scratch, but I got it done.  Also, the people were nice on Saturday morning.

I was exhausted the rest of Saturday and decided to rerun another sermon.  Not a good sermon, but it was a sermon just the same.  (I really hate not having the time to write a proper sermon.)

Sunday was busy as always with church in the morning at my congregation and church in the afternoon at Nick's congregation.  The drive is getting really old though.  And it was snowing on the way home.  It was pretty, but made driving dicey. 

Now, it is time for work.  Thirty-eight hours in all.  I will try to not get tired and disillusioned. 

If you are the praying type, pray for some breaks on the job front!


Saturday, December 26, 2009

In The Beginning

Christmas 1            John 1:1-14            December 27, 2009            The Rev. Benton Quest

“In the beginning was the Word.”
In the beginning was Jesus.  Before anything was, Jesus was with the Father.
When I think about these words in John, I am always bowled over by their magnitude.  “The Word was with God and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him and without him not one thing come into being.”  The reading starts with this image of Jesus as the creator of the universe.  We start with Jesus as beyond comprehension.
But then we shift our focus from the universal to a little tiny baby.  This baby, this little tiny baby that we find in the manger is the Word John was speaking about.  This vulnerable little person is the one who was with God in the beginning and through whom all things came into being.  A vulnerable baby, weak and newborn.  A vulnerable baby, susceptible to the damp and chill.  A vulnerable baby; but also the creator of the universe.
I find it telling that Jesus came to us in the form of a baby.  We would have expected Jesus to come to us in a form that displays his power and might.  We would have expected Jesus to come to us in a form that would put fear into our hearts and cause us to run in fear.  We would expect Jesus to come in a way that would let us know, once and for all, who was God around here.  But that is not how he arrived in the world.  When Jesus came into the world, he came as a small, vulnerable, baby.
But why come as a baby?  Why not come as a great warrior?  Isn’t that what we would like?  We want our messiah to be one who is strong and mighty, don’t we?  This is also what the Jewish people of Biblical times were looking for.  They were expecting a strong warrior to come and take over.  They were expecting a warrior to crush their foe.  But Jesus didn’t come as a strong warrior; Jesus came as a small, vulnerable baby.
If Jesus had come as a strong warrior, it would have said the wrong thing to the world.  The strong warrior would have told the world that they had better believe – or else.  If the people didn’t believe, they would be crushed by this great warrior.  If they didn’t believe, then they would be forced to at least act like they believed.
But let’s think about it: Is faith by force really faith at all?  If we profess something because we are afraid not to profess it, are we really invested in the profession?  For example, if we tell the school-yard bully that he is the greatest to avoid getting punched in the mouth, do we really believe the bully is the greatest?  Obviously not.  Well, in a similar vein, if we only come to belief to avoid getting attacked by the strong warrior, then that would be a rather shallow belief, indeed.
We see this interplay between the strong warrior and the vulnerable warrior all throughout history.  Throughout history, the dictators and czars would rule by fear and intimidation.  Those who follow these rulers do not do it because they care about them and love them.  No, people who follow dictators and czars do so because they are afraid of being killed or tortured.  Now the followers of kind and gentile rulers are loyal because they love, care and respect the ruler.  The followers remain true to these rulers because these rulers instill love over fear.
Now we should not think of this vulnerable warrior as weak.  Actually, quite the opposite is true.  This warrior can appear vulnerable because this warrior does not doubt his strength.  He does not need to make a show of force to get others to believe.  The vulnerable warrior can be humble because he knows the battle has already been won.
Jesus could give his life in our place because he had a deeper understand than that found in the world.  As Jesus was with God when all that is was created, he knew the deeper truth that was not apparent to the world.   Jesus, as the second person of the trinity, knew that death could not overcome him.  The son knew that although he may appear defeated, that he would in fact emerge victorious.
In coming to us as a vulnerable child, Jesus is in effect telling us to relax.  We can relax because the end is already assured.  We can relax because our warrior, our savior, knows he will succeed.  We can relax because even though it may look like they have destroyed our savior, there is a deeper understanding at work.
It may seem odd to talk about Jesus dying here on Christmas.  We are supposed to be talking about the wonder of the babe in Bethlehem.  But Jesus’ birth at Christmas points us to Easter.  If Jesus did not die for our sins, then why should he come?  We have plenty of teachers who could teach us how to be “good people.”  We have leaders of faith traditions that could teach us how to be moral.  People have created gods that could scare us into submission.  Even Santa is used to scare children into submission.  But it is through Jesus’ death and resurrection that we find our life.  It is through Jesus submitting to the ultimate humiliation that we see and reap the benefits of his ultimate strength.  It is because Jesus came to live among us, or as another translation of the Greek would put it, pitched his tent among us, that we can reap the benefit of his strength.
Jesus came to be among us.  Jesus was born into our world.  Jesus came as a vulnerable baby to help us to realize the ultimate power he has.  Jesus submitted to the ultimate humiliation to bring us to the fullness of life.
This is the life we celebrate as Christians.  This is the life that we honor.  This is the life we look to as our loving protector and friend.  This is the life we lift up, not because we are afraid, but lift up because we are loved. 
In the beginning was the Word.
In the beginning was Jesus.  Before anything was, Jesus was with the Father.  Before anything was, our redemption was secure.  This is what we celebrate during Christmas and what we celebrate everyday!

Let The Shopping Begin!

Hurry! There are only 363 shopping days left before Christmas!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my blogger buddies! No time to write much because I have to open at BUX tomorrow and need to get to bed.

Best wishes and blessings!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Sermon

Christmas Eve 2009        Luke 2:1-20           Fr. Benton Quest

Well, I really can’t explain it.  We were out with our sheep, like usual.  I was a little tired but I knew I couldn’t fall asleep.  Those wolves are just waiting for that moment when you aren’t paying attention to come in an take a sheep.  But I wasn’t going to let that happen. 
I know what people say about us shepherds.  They think we are lazy because all we do is lay around our fields.  And they think we are thieves, ready to steal a sheep when no one is looking.  Then after we steal the sheep, we blame it on a wolf.  But nothing could be farther from the truth.  I work hard and I pride myself on closely watching my master’s sheep.  Those people in the village don’t know what they are talking about . . .
Oh, now where was I?  Oh yeah, I was out in the field.  Some of us shepherds brought our flocks together so we could take turns sleeping while others were watching.  Well, while I was watching, suddenly the strangest thing happened.  In the midst of the darkness, I saw a light.  As I watched, this light began to get brighter and brighter.  I looked to see if it was someone coming up the hill with a lamp, but I couldn’t see anyone.
I woke up my buddy to show him the light and see what he thought.  He looked and was scared.  He said it was a demon light and that we needed to wake the others and get the sheep to safety. 
As he started waking the other shepherds, the light continued to get brighter.  What was weird was that when we looked for the source of the light, we couldn’t find any.  We couldn’t see any torches or lamps.  Then the light got to be as bright as the sun.  It was like daylight.  The sheep were “baaing” but they were not running away.  They were just standing, huddled together.  I think those sheep were as scared as we were!  Besides, the light became so bright I had to shield my eyes.
Then I heard a voice.  When I looked to where the sound had come.  I saw the strangest thing.  It looked like a person but this person was dressed in shining clothes.  The light we were seeing was coming from the person!
        I’ll tell you, although I don’t like to admit it, I can’t think of anything scarier than that glowing person.
        Then the person, well person is the closest thing I can think of to call it, told us to look for a baby, wrapped in cloth, and lying in a manger.  That sounded strange.  Who would place a baby in a manger?  You know, a manger is where they put the animals’ food!  Then the next thing I knew, there were glowing people everywhere!  They were praising God, and saying “Glory to God in the Highest heaven, and on earth peace among those who he favors!”
        Then the glowing people left and we were again standing in the dark.  For a while we didn’t know what to do.  Then I said, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place which the Lord made known to us.”
        When we got to Bethlehem, we found the mother and father, just as the plowing person had told us.  We felt kind of weird, asking to see the baby.  We explained about the glowing people and about their message.  I though for sure we would have been accused of drinking too much wine.  But instead, the man asked us to come in.  We saw the little baby, wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger, just as we had been told.  And when I looked at the baby, he was looking back at me.  And when his eyes met mine, I felt, well, strange.  This was just a baby, but this was more than a baby.  The glowing people said this was the messiah, the Lord.  For ages we had been told of his coming.  Now he was here!
        Why wasn’t he born in a great castle?  Why wasn’t he born somewhere nice and warm?  Where were the kings and noblemen to worship him?  All that were here were the baby’s family and us shepherds.  I don’t understand.
        Yet, when I looked again on that little baby, I began to understand.  The glowing person said that the good news was for all people!  It wasn’t just for the rich and the powerful!  It just wasn’t for those respected by society!  It was for us!  For all of us!  It is for the ones left out of society!  It is for the ones kept out of polite society.  It is good news for all people! 
        The messiah is here!  You just have to look.  However, he is not where you would think he would be.  He is not up on high.  He is here, with us!  He is Emmanuel!  God with us!
        If I were you, I would run, as fast as I could, to find him.  And when you find him, look into his eyes.  You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I love Christians....

Yes, today I got yelled at by a customer because I wished her "Happy Holidays."   She sneered, "It's 'Merry Christmas'!"

I said that I was, first off, an Episcopalian Priest, and that I have friends who are Jewish, Muslim, and Wiccan.  Since I want to wish all my friends the best of the season, I tend to go with "Happy Holidays." 

She started to say something about Holidays and "Holy Days" and some other thing that made no sense.

So I just wished everyone a "good day" from then on. 

The love of Christ in action! 

Monday, December 21, 2009

Oh What Fun


Well, over the weekend, our crew at work went from six to four.  That is right!  Four people to work 13 hours per day/ seven days per week.  And we are never supposed to leave the place empty.  So that means that we need people to cover for breaks.  Oh, and did I forget to mention that NONE of our supervisors know what we do? 

I have been trying to REDUCE my hours, especially with Christmas coming.  But do you think that is going to happen?  And we also have the Lead Barista who talks more than he works, even thought he would have you believe that the place would close down without him.  My response when someone asks if the Lead is working is:  "He is on the clock and in the store."

I have been trying to get out of the place, but I am usually beat by the time I get off work.  But I have been checking out the deployment page and there is something that looks good upstate!  It would be nice in that it would be close to Nick's congregation too!  I am guardedly optimistic.  And no, I am not interested in the congregation just because it is logistically optimum.  They also seem like a good place for ministry.  Our lease here is up in April, my contact with my current congregation is up in July.  Sometimes time just flies!  Seems like we just moved and that I just signed a contact.  But hopefully god has some things in store for us.  We really need some things to finally go right!

Peace to all..

12-21 Not just a Pallindrome

Let's Put Saturn Back In Saturnalia!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Holy Spirit of Christmases Yet to Come

Welcome Home!
Well, two weeks ago, we talked about Christmases of the Past.  Last week, we talked about Christmas Present.  Now, today, we are going to talk about The Holy Spirit of Christmases Yet to Come!  (I wish I had echo on this microphone!)
I don’t know why in the story, A Christmas Carol, this ghost, the Ghost of Christmases Yet to Come, is the ghost that Scrooge fears the most.  I guess it has something to do with all of Scrooge’s “chickens coming home to roost.”  All the things that he had done in the past, all the people he had used and abused, all of the consequences of these behaviors were suddenly made very clear to Scrooge.  And the sad thing was that Scrooge only really changed when he was able to see that all the wealth he had amassed was for nothing.  He only really changed when he was able to see and hear what the people really thought of him.  And then he only changed because he was scared of dying alone.
I would love to rewrite the story.  I would love to have the ghosts tell Scrooge about the real reason for Christmas.  Yes, we hear from the mouth of Tiny Tim, “God bless us, everyone,” but Scrooge does not really get the whole story of Christmas.  Scrooge only changes to save himself.  I guess that is not bad, but there definitely seems to be more.
I would have hoped that Scrooge would have learned that he was a wonderful person simply because he was a wonderful creation in Christ.  I would have hoped that Scrooge would have learned that even before he was conceived he was loved and cherished by God.  That the amassing of worldly possessions and the awe and fear he felt from those who were around him were only a distant second to the knowledge that God loved him.  But, unfortunately, Dickens does not elaborate on this point.
However, for us, Christmases Yet to Come are not something that we need to fear.  We are children of the promise, not children of the threat.  I would hope we know that we are God’s wonderful creations.  And we are the ones who have received the baptism of Spirit and Fire that John speaks of in the gospel.  We do not need to look to the future and see death and abandonment like Scrooge saw; we can look to the future and see the promise of love and forgiveness!  We may have chickens in our past that may be looking on coming home to roost, but, unlike Scrooge, we have the promise of love in Christ, not just aloneness and dispair.
But right here, right now, what is the Holy Spirit of Christmases Yet to Come saying to us?  How is the Spirit prodding us?  What has the Spirit placed upon our hearts?
I guess maybe I should first say something about the Spirit and how the Spirit the Spirit speaks to us.  If this is all old hat to you, then I apologize.  But when I speak of the Spirit, I am sometimes afraid that I may be misunderstood.  When I talk about the moving of the Holy Spirit, I am talking about the thoughts, the desires, and the urgings that we feel in our lives.  You may feel the urge to go over and help someone who seems to be in trouble.  It might just seem like your own idea, but it may also be the working of the Holy Spirit.  You may feel like this is just your own idea, but I also believe that it could be the Spirit at work.
With small things like helping people, going with what you are feeling is one thing, but what about the bigger things?  How do we tell if the bigger things in life are our own ideas or have been put on our heart by the Spirit?  That is a much more difficult task.  Unfortunately, it is often difficult to know what is of God and what are our own wishes.
It is when we are trying to discern the leading of the Spirit that we really need to be part of a community of faith.  When we come together as a community of faith, we are able to help each other discern the way the Spirit might be moving.  We are able to discern how the Spirit is moving us as individuals and for us as a community.  When we come together as a community of faith, we are able to help, guide, and support each other.
So, as God’s wonderful creations, as people baptized into the promises and wonders of God, we can look toward this Christmas and Christmases yet to come with anticipation and excitement!  We can look forward to a world where God not only is there for us, but is there to help lead and guide us.  When we look toward this Christmas and Christmases Yet to Come, we need feel no fear, we can rest assured that when we reach out in faith, we can accomplish what God has set before us.
Scrooge changed out of fear, but God asks us to reach out to those around us out of the assurance that we are loved more than we can ever imagine.  God asks us to reach out, knowing that the one who baptizes with the Spirit and fire blesses us so that we may be a blessing to others.
Hopefully we see how God has been at work right here at St. Swithins’s and hopefully we can also have faith that God will continue to see us through.  No matter what we may feel, no matter what we may fear, we need to go out into the world in faith.  We need to remember that in this and all things, God is with us.  No matter what, we must rejoice in the Lord, always!
We are starting to near the day of Christmas.  We are approaching birth of the one foretold.  We are nearing the fulfillment of the promises of the ages.  Our God has been with us, our stronghold and our sure defense.  Our God has been with us through our past Christmases, and our God will continue to be with us through our Christmases Yet to Come.  As we approach Christmas, as we approach the manger, I pray that God removes our fear and fills our lives with peace and courage.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Passive-Aggressive VS Sabotage

This may be one Dr. Ur-Spo could comment on...

I have been thinking of the difference between Passive-Aggressiveness and Sabotage. I was wondering if it is possible to be consciously passive-aggressive. My gut feeling was that it was not, that passive-aggressiveness was a more subconscious act. It seemed that passive-aggressive was the realm of those who do not feel they have any power or cannot handle the concept of placing themselves in harms way by standing up to the bully/aggressor/slave driver. So, to appease the ego and not alert the superego, the person acts out, but not in a readily identifiable way.

Now, for the person to KNOW what he or she is doing, I would say that the person (victim?) has moved into the realm of sabotage. The person is actively working to go against the wishes of the person (who believes himself/herself to be)in charge. The victim decides to actively do something to thwart the other.

I don't know which is worse. I think passive-aggressiveness can be worse for the company/whatever. A passive-aggressive person can slowly undermine some very well laid plans. Sabotage can very quickly cause problems, but these problems are usually easier to spot.

IDK. Just thinking about work and my feelings. I feel like I have moved to the point of actively wanting to sabotage work. I think I have the ego strength to NOT do it, but the daydreams help to make the job tolerable.

Addendum --  I also wonder if sabotage has to be a larger thing.  Making decaf instead of regular coffee, that is small.  Does that just make it a passive-aggressive action?  Or is it sabotage?  

Monday, December 07, 2009

What to get the girls on your list!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Holy Spirit of Christmas Present.

Welcome Home! 
You may remember that the theme for this Advent is “Welcome Home for Christmas.”  To welcome us home, we have been looking to see what the Holy Spirits of Christmas have been doing in our lives.  Last week, we looked at the Holy Spirit of Christmas Past.  We looked at the wonderful things of past Christmases of our own lives and in the life of the congregation.  We also contemplated some of the not so wonderful things of past Christmases and looked to see what gifts may have been hiding in these not so wonderful events and what we could learn from them.
This week, we move on.  We move beyond the Holy Spirit of Christmas Past and move to the Holy Spirit of Christmas Present.  We look to see what the Holy Spirit has been about in our personal lives and in the life of this congregation.  We look to see what gifts the Holy Spirit may have waiting for us, just waiting for us to unwrap and to use.
We started the year with a congregational meeting and a full vestry.  We were one of the few churches in the area to do that!  We may be small, but we have the David Syndrome; just because we are smaller than some doesn’t mean we need to be counted out.  No way!
We’ve seen the Holy Spirit at work through other events that have occurred over the year.  We have gathered together to reach out to help the needy of our community through our rummage sale.  We worked to increase our presence in Mason through our craft Bazaar.  We have reached out in Christian love to a family in need with food for Thanksgiving and with food and gifts for Christmas.  We have gathered to thank God for the life and Ministry of Fr. Jake; for the path that he had prepared and the path that we continue to walk today.
We have been blessed with the gift of music for our worship and the gathered voices to put words to that music.  We have been blessed with loving, caring congregation that is quick to volunteer when volunteers are needed, and quick to reach out when someone needs support.  The Holy Spirit of Christmas Present has been quite busy here at St. Swithin’s this past year!
And today we continue to see and celebrate the work of the Holy Spirit.  Today we say “Thank you!” to The Ven. Lisa McMahn for all that she has done for us and all she has been for us.  Lisa has been a gift to our congregation.  She has acted as a lens to show us Christ’s love at work and she has been a catalyst to put that love into action.  She has believed in us when we found it hard to believe in ourselves.  God sent Lisa to us as a sign that we are more than just a congregation of Christmas Past; God sent Lisa to us to lead us into Christmas Present and give us hope for Christmases yet to come.
I also want to reiterate that we are not saying “Good-bye” to Lisa!  Lisa is fading into the background, but she is not going away.  God has other things in store for her!  She will be focusing her time and her gifts to other congregations that need her help.
But even saying “Good-bye” to Lisa is a sign to us that the Holy Spirit is at work in our midst.  We, as a congregation, need to hear the Spirit saying, “You are ready to fly!” or maybe, “I’m taking the training wheels off!”  We need to see this as a God telling us that we are ready to go out into the world!
The Holy Spirit of Christmas Present is here, now!
And still, we are in the time of Advent, in the time of waiting.  This time of waiting is a feeling we as Christians should be quite familiar with.  We constantly find ourselves in this place.  We know Jesus has been born, but yet we wait.  We know the Reign of God is among us, but yet we wait for its coming.  We know that we have received Christ’s forgiveness, but yet we still live in a world of sin and pain.  We as Christians are familiar with this feeling.
If we look at the world at the time of Christ’s birth, things were pretty chaotic.  The people were oppressed by both the Roman government and by their own religious leaders.  There were huge taxes, and the practice of their religion had become filled with requirements and actions that had little, if any, basis in God’s plan.  It was into this mix that God came, as a baby in an obscure, little, manger; a baby who would grow up to restore hope to a world in need.  He was the fulfillment of centuries of prophecy – the fulfillment of the past in their present.  Even at the time of Christ’s birth, their past was preparing them for that very point in time.
I hope we can see how our past has prepared us, bringing us to this point in time.  I hope we can see how Christ’s love has helped us through the difficult times and will continue to help, support, and guide us into the future.  I hope we can see how the Christ in each of us is here to give birth to the plans and dreams of our lives and of this congregation.  It is my belief that God has plans for us and that God ain’t done with us yet!
Last week we looked at how the Holy Spirit was at work in our Christmases of the Past, and today we have seen how the Holy Spirit of Christmas Present has been preparing us for the changes that are occurring within our midst.  Next week, we will encounter the Holy Spirit of Christmas Future, the one that everyone seems to fear.  But I don’t think we need to fear.  I KNOW we don’t need to fear.  The Holy Spirit that has called us home in the past, and calls us home today in the present, will be there to welcome us home in the future.  The future may be something that many dread, but because we have Christ, we can look to our future with anticipation!

"Why do you have to talk about it?"

I had a friend ask why gay people always need to talk about their lives. Now, this was not asked in anger, just out of curiosity. He said that with all of the changes that are occurring in the world, being gay should not be something that is problematic.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if that were true?

I would love to tell Larry that the world is changing and that we now have the same freedoms that the heterosexual population take for granted. But then I hear about something like stuff going on in Uganda and realize that the world has not come nearly as far as we would hope.

What really saddens me is that I have not heard much, if anything, about this on the news here in the US. We don't want to talk about it or don't want to be reminded of the ugliness that surrounds the whole Gay-hate movement.

I rejoice that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, has the courage to speak out against this atrocity and is willing to name our culpability in the whole mess.

Finally, we note that much of the current climate of fear, rejection, and antagonism toward gay and lesbian persons in African nations has been stirred by members and former members of our own Church. We note further that attempts to export the culture wars of North America to another context represent the very worst of colonial behavior. We deeply lament this reality, and repent of any way in which we have participated in this sin.

We call on all Episcopalians to seek their own conversion toward an ability to see the image of God in the face of every neighbor, of whatever race, gender, sexual orientation, theological position, or creed. God has created us in myriad diversity, and no one sort or condition of human being can fully reflect the divine. Only the whole human race begins to be an adequate mirror of the divine.

Why is this so quiet in America?  How can the fundimentalists suppost this?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Growing Old VS Growing Up

*Some members of family (not Family) may want to skip this as they may be offended.*

In life, becoming old happens, becoming mature takes work. I have seen this adage at work over the past week. I have seen that chronological age has nothing to do with mental age. I know this should be obvious, but some times I need to have the obvious pointed out to me.

The first case has to due with "The Ex." This would be Nick's ex-wife. A LOVELY woman. (please hear dripping sarcasm.) In the short time that I was privileged to be in her presence, I realized she a)is a vile woman; b) has not gotten over Nick; or c) both. She took any opportunity to berate Nick. Of course this was done as "just a joke" but we all know that humor is the last refuge of the passive-aggressive.

I can not fathom how one person could use the situation of another person's parent's death to reopen old wounds and try to prove just how much better that one person is. After 30 years, you would think that proving "I am better than you" would be a hollow victory. And to do this during a funeral is one of the most childish things I have encountered.

I would like to think that people are more noble than this, especially people who work in the health care field.

The other incident involves the Flaming Twink from work.

I get info that there is something afoot with the Twink when the boss asks me if I have taken all of my breaks before the Twink is supposed to get to work. I normally would have one more break to take after he would arrive, so by making sure I had all my breaks in clued me that I would be working alone. (Now what is totally ironic about this whole thing is that The Twink called saying he would be late for work and wanted me to punch him in so he would not be late and not lose his job. Of course, I said, "No.")

Well, The Twink came zooming through and then went home. Later when closer came in, I told her that she would be closing alone. I also said that The Twink should not be surprised by the suspension. (He said himself that his job was in jeopardy.)

Later, I find this on Facebook: " I guess 'had it coming to him' well ] not to name names but your a two faced jerk with no way out. So guess who's life sucks more...I'll wager it's not mine." I know this is coming from a childish 19 year-old, but it still stung. And I didn't say he "had it coming to him." (Which actually he did, but that is another story.)

Has Facebook become the refuge of the passive-aggressive? By posting on FB, he does not have to take responsibility? He didn't defriend me so he must have figured I would see the post. Do we not teach personal accountability and respect.

Oh well, with people like The Ex around raising children, I am not surprised we get people like The Twink. (No, they are not related.)

**Added Later***

Perhaps I am as childish as The Twink by posting this. Perhaps by not contacting The Ex directly, I am being just as immature. I don't know. What I would say as rational, I do not want to have a relationship with this woman and hope to never encounter her again. IDK.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holy Spirit of Christmas Past

Welcome home for Christmas!
You probably think I am nuts for saying that, and you are probably right.  But that is beside the point.  Today I would like to invite you on a journey home.  I would like to invite you on a journey home for Christmas.
Now, some of you are probably asking yourself, “What is he talking about?  Welcome home?  I have never left!  This church has been my home since the day it opened!  How can he, a new comer, welcome ME home?”
But even to you, I want to say, “Welcome Home.”
One of the sad things about home is that we can move away from it while never setting foot outside of it.  I learned this when I finally did move out of my hometown of Dodge.  I couldn’t wait to get out of it!  Dodge was small and boring and full of hicks.  Nothing of interest happened there.  I couldn’t wait to shake the dust of that town off of my feet and go out and really begin to live.  Well, as you can guess, now that I am away from Dodge, I have truly come to realize how much it was my home.  It wasn’t small and boring, it was really quite beautiful and filled with wonderful people and things.  Too bad it took moving away for me to notice it.
What I hope to do during this time of Advent is to help you to see the wonderful home and gift you have from God right here in St. Swithin’s.  I hope that you will not have to leave to learn this and I hope that you will find right here in this community the strength and courage to invite others home for Christmas and for the rest of their life!
What I want to use as a guide along the way is an idea I borrowed from Nick, but I am sure he borrowed it from someone else!  This is the idea of the Spirit of Christmas Past.
Our past is what makes us what we are.  Without a past, we are nothing.  Our past is where we learned the joys of life and our past is where we made the mistakes that give us wisdom and insight.  Our past is full of wonderful things that make us smile and some not so wonderful things that we forget at our own peril.  But no matter what happened in our past, our past is the proper place to start.
Together, we have only had one Christmas.  I remember it being warm, bright, and cheerful.  I remember the sanctuary full of people, both people from the congregation’s past and people from its present.  I also remember snow!  I remember it as a time of coming together and feeling the Holy Spirit of Christmas within our midst.
I want to remember this feeling; this feeling that anything is possible.  We were capable of all kinds of wonderful things!  God had promised us a Savior and we were celebrating that Savior’s birth!  We as priest and congregation were still unknown quantities to each other.  But we had the belief that God was with us and in that, we were capable of anything!
This is a feeling I want to remember, a feeling I want to trust.
But I am sure we could go back to some other Christmases that were not so good, not so happy.  I am sure we could go back to Christmases that seemed happy on the surface, but were anything but happy once we dug a little deeper.  I always wondered why Scrooge needed to go to these not so happy Christmases.  Why not just stick with the happy ones and be done with it.  Why can’t I just remind you of happy Christmases and be done with it?  Well, it is in the unhappy memories that we also have learned.  We have learned that some things cannot be trusted.  Some people will hurt us.  I am not saying that the person or people were intentionally trying to hurt us, but in our lives, we will be hurt.  And part of our life is to remember the hurt but not get caught up in the hurt.
Probably there have been Christmases that have hurt us.  I know I have had my share.  But each of these events, I believe, has helped me to be more caring and more loving.  I would hope that painful experiences within the congregation could be used as a means of growth and a means of reaching out.  We don’t want to get caught up in the past, but we also do not want to give up the lessons that we worked so hard to learn.
This is the lesson we learn from the Holy Spirit of Christmas Past.  We see how throughout history, the coming of a Savior had been foretold.  It helps us to see that in the midst of all the difficulties we see in life, that God does in fact have a plan and that this plan is unfolding.  In the Old Testament reading, Jeremiah tells us that the days are surely coming; that the promised one will arrive.
As a congregation, we have many things to remember and many things to be proud of.  We have had Christmases that have shown forth in Christ love and Christmases that were filled with warmth and love.  These were given to us as gifts from God.  We were given these as gifts to nurture us and to help us grow.
I also know there have been some Christmases that were not so warm and loving.  And these are also areas for us to learn and to grow.  These are also areas that can make us stronger and areas that can grow our faith.
As we begin Advent, I hope we can fearlessly look at our life together as a congregation.  I hope that we can look at what we have done in that past that seemed to have worked and continue doing those things.  I also hope we can look at our past and face the troubles with faith and courage.  I hope we can learn and grow and create a community of faith that can become a beacon of light to our community.  As we begin Advent, I hope we can feel truly welcomed into the community of Christ, and into the church.  I also hope we look for ways to extend the welcome to others, others who need to feel the love of Christ.
As we begin Advent, it is my prayer that we wait, not as ones with no hope, but as those who see the journey home as a gift of life and growth.

Fourth Anniversary

Today marks the Anniversary of the first time Nick and I "Got Biblical!"

He has been a joy and an inspiration to me!

I love him so much! I had given up on finding someone to love and thought I was going to go through life all alone and surfing the internet. But, as they say, when I wasn't looking, someone appeared!

For those of you who have found love, congrats! For those who have not, don't give up!

To my Honey! Nick, I Love You!

Ass of the Month (Possibly Year!) Award

Braindead Riggata! (Not his real name, but actually, quite close!)

Yesterday, I called into work to see about getting the day off so I could go with Nick to make plans for his mother's funeral.

The above mentioned manager's response, "If you feel you need to go, then take the day off."

Now, if I called in and said that my wife's mother died, would I have gotten the same response? "If you feel the need to go with your wife, then take the day off." I highly doubt it. But, because I am gay, my relationships don't mean as much.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Dear Person From Knoxville

Dear Person from Knoxville,

If you are related to Nick, it is VERY important that you give him a call.



Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Lurkey Time!

Ok, it is a Christmas song, but it does say "Turkey Lurkey" which is really fun to say!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

One Month To Go!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Ranting at Life

*This is a pitty-party rant.  You may want to skip it. *

I have truly been having difficulty with work lately.

As many of you who are readers of my blog know, I am very introverted. But as you also know, I am in very extroverted jobs. This causes some problems! One of the biggest problems is that I have a difficult time finding space to regroup and re-energize.

This is especially a problem at BUX. We are a licensed store, not a corporate store. And we are in a very confined space. And while I am at work, I am confined to this space with my coworkers and with the people who are coming to get coffee. There is really no way to get away from it.

Now, in the very introverted, when the threshold of stimulation has been reached, any more stimulation becomes VERY uncomfortable. (Common guys, you know what I am talking about!)  The problem at work is trying to find ways to allow the stimulation to abate.

Then I also work with two VERY (I might even say PAINFULLY) extroverted.  The one is the twink I talked about before. The other is the (I would bet BIG money that he is closeted) Lead Barista who has an ego that is so big that it will not allow anyone near.  Everything that happens has to be tied back to him.  (Said to a customer:  "That cookie isn't nearly as sweet as me."  Or "This drink is filled with Hossiness!" (His name is "Hoss"))  He also is constantly referring to himself in the third-person.

Now, I am sure to most of the customers, this is nothing.  But putting up with this for eight hours a day gets to be a bit much.  And being introverted and having to deal with this is psychically painful.  As I said, most people who come into the store probably do not understand what the problem would be.  Hoss seems like a nice guy and seems like he would be the life of the party.  But for me, the repetitive jokes and the "patter" gets really tiresome.

It has gotten to the point where thinking of working at Bux leads to an anxiety attacks.  And although it may sound like I am being a drama queen, the coffee shop has begun to feel like an attack.  I become frustrated and anxious just thinking about it.

Unfortunately, weekends do not provide a respite, either.  Most weekends are spent preparing a sermon, preparing Sunday worship, doing Sunday worship, and going with Nick to his Sunday Worship.  Oh, did I forget the 200 mile round trip journey in all of this?

I am not complaining about traveling with Nick, I enjoy hearing him preach and I enjoy the people in the congregation.  I also want to be along to provide Nick with some company during the trip because it is a long trip for him too.  But it just become more things to do and no time to regroup.

I also do not know where the whole church thing is going.  We are holding, but not growing.  I have been told that things are going well, but I still have bills that are not getting paid.  I want to trust in God, but I am getting tired of waiting.  I need to get people to go out and bring in new members, or give more money, or both!!  But that is not happening.

I have now spent about 5 hours doing NOTHING and feel guilty about it.  I know I shouldn't feel guilty but I also know that I should be looking for a different job.

And so the anxiety continues.

*End of rant*

Saturday, November 21, 2009

We Already Know How It Ends

In seminary, I had a professor who admitted to an interesting habit:  He would read the last chapter of a mystery first, and then he would go back and start the book from the beginning.  We, quite naturally, objected.  We said that knowing how the story was going to end would ruin the whole book.  What enjoyment could you get if you knew how the story was going to end?  His response was interesting:  he said it all depended on what you wanted from the story.  If you wanted the big surprise of “whodunit,” well, then you needed to read the story the way it was written.  But if wanted to enjoy the craft of the artist, then you needed to read the last chapter first.  When you know how the story is going to end, you can watch the way the writer weaves the various threads together to form the finished product.
Thinking about it in that way, reading the last chapter first kind of makes sense.  Granted, it is a different way of reading, a different way of enjoying the book.  It may not be the way most of the world reads books, but just because it is different does not mean it is wrong. 
Now, there is something else about reading the last chapter first – and this may sound a little odd – but there is something comforting about it.  No matter what is going on in the story, you know by the last page of the last chapter, the story will have reached its resolve.  It may sound obvious, but since you know how the book will end, you know that the book will have to get to that end.  So you can comfortably watch what happens in the book, knowing it will all work out.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do this in life?  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to know exactly how life is going to work out; to know the last chapter?  You know we try to read the last chapter.  We read horoscopes to give us some insights into what is going to happen.  We have all kinds of ways to try to predict the future.  Ten years ago, there was all kinds of anxiety about Y2K.  Many people thought they had read the last chapter and that everything was going to end when we entered the year 2000.  I guess even one of the local Mega-church pastors was telling people that they needed to be prepared for the end to come in 2000.  Now, we have movies and books telling us that we need to worry about the earth ending in the year 2012.  (Dec. 21st of 2012 to be exact.)  And so the anxiety continues.
This is the interesting thing about what the world puts out there as the last chapter of the story:  In just about every story we hear from the world, the last chapter involves pain, death and destruction.  Bad things happen and few people, if any, are able to escape.  But so often, the last chapter, as told by the world, involves total destruction, complete annihilation of all.  And I think the really sad part of this is that the world just eats this stuff up!  I don’t know why, but people just seem to go crazy over all of this stuff!
And people have been going crazy over these end of the world scenarios for centuries!  I once worked with a guy who kept quoting the Bible, especially the Book of Revelation and kept talking about The New World Order.  He kept telling me about how “they” were trying to create one world currency and how “they” were keeping track of us by our debit cards.  Truthfully, I felt that if “they” needed to keep track of everything I did, “they” must surely have a boring life!  But he kept it up.  He was totally worried about the whole New World Order thing.  He also kept pulling Bible verses to back up what he said.  Finally, I had to put a stop to this.  I asked him, “Did you read the end?”  He stopped and looked at me.  I asked him again, “Did you read the end?”  He asked, “End of what?”  “The end of the story?  Did you read it?”  I asked.  “In the end, God WINS!”
This seemed to have no effect on him.  Well, almost no effect; he did stop talking to ME about The New World Order.  But I am willing to guess he still will not use a debit card.
As people of faith, we should be more like my seminary professor than like my coworker.  We need to remember that God has written the last chapter.  We need to have faith that we can trust in the true word of God.  Through our faith, we know how the story will end.  We know that the last chapter has everything to do with love and nothing to do with death.  In faith, we know that Christ vanquished death and that eternal life reigns.
Today, we celebrate the feast of Christ the King.  Today, we celebrate the end of the story.  Today, we celebrate the victory of Christ over death.  The feast of Christ the King gives us strength and comfort in the same way that reading the last chapter can give us comfort.  No matter what we see, we can be sure that Christ will emerge victorious.
We do not need to worry about asteroids striking the Earth.  We do not need to worry about Yellowstone exploding.  We do not need to worry about total chaos breaking lose in 2012.  We do not need to worry about these things because these things are not the end of the story! 
Knowing the ending opens us up for all kinds of possibilities for us!  Knowing the ending gives us the comfort of knowing that we really can’t mess things up too badly.  Knowing the ending means that we have the freedom to be out and about in the world.  If we trust that Christ is King and believe that Christ will reign victorious, then we can be comforted in knowing that no matter what is happening, that God the creator is still in charge.
Christ the King marks the end of the church year.  It is important for us to remember at the end of the church year the promises that God has made to all of us.  It is important that have faith that what we see now is not how the story ends.  It is important for us to know that God has more in store for us!  Remembering that God has already written the end, allows us to enjoy the way the story of our lives unfold.  Remembering that God has already written the end allows us to appreciate the genius of our creator God.
Today we celebrate Christ the King, the end of the story.  Next week, we begin our wait for the birth of Christ, we wait for the story to begin.  But in all things, in our times of celebration and our times of waiting; we need to remember we are people of the promise.  We have the promise of life, love, and joy in abundance.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

What's a Happinin'?

I haven't wrote much of what has been happening with me over the past few weeks. I am not sure if it is because I am too busy or just tired of complaining.

I have come to the conclusion that the phrase, "Well, at least you have a job" needs to be deleted from the English language. Yes, I have a job, but no, I am not happy to be doing it. I know that I am not "above" the job, but my gifts and talents are not being tapped in this area. Making coffee is not rocket science. But by the time I am done with the job, the introverted me is exhausted.

We, at church, just finished our Craft Bazaar. I did pretty good, I made about $100. I am going to put the cash to getting some glasses. I didn't think I was over priced, but people just didn't seem to be buying. I don't think $5 for a glass mitten ornament is too much, but people were not interested. Maybe my design was not appreciated.  I actually ended up giving more of them away then I sold.  We had some non-members who came to our church to open a booth and I gave them a mitten to say thanks.

The Christmas trees did not sell at all.  I had $7.50 on them.  The buttons alone were probably worth that much.  The buttons were antique.  Oh well, they will either go on our tree, or they will become Christmas gifts.  I like them!

The church didn't sell, but that is ok, I wasn't expecting it to.  The Bazaar was a good excuse to make it.   When finances are tight, a good excuse is a life saver!

I had a baptism on Sunday.  It went ok, except for the fact that I had gotten the baby's name wrong in the sermon.  Well, I got it right where it counted and I guess that is all that matters.  (Although I don't think God cared if I misspoke or not!)

Between my church's worship service and Nick's church's service, we went to Bronner's.  Man, that place was packed!  But we kind of expected that.

Now I am home for the day.  Nick has to work.  (I still wish I could afford a vacation for us.  I will have to think about how to make this happen.)  I am hoping to get some applications put out for a different job today and make some things for Christmas.  One thing I want to make is a "yard flag" for in front of our house.  (Out of glass, of course!)

Other wise, life is what it is.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Baptism Sermon

Today we celebrate one of the truly wonderful events in the Christian faith.  Today we celebrate the baptism of a new member into our faith community.  Actually, I feel odd saying “a new member” because it seems like we are saying that before being baptized, God had no idea who Mary was, and after we sprinkle some water on her head, suddenly there is a “poof” in Heaven and Mary is suddenly on God’s radar.
I guess this was, in part, the image I grew up with.  I remember given money for the poor pagan babies when I was in school.  We had to give money so that the missionaries could baptize all the babies so they would not be damned to Hell, or Purgatory, for those not old enough to know what they were doing.  And this didn’t even take into account those children whose parents seemed so uncaring as to not worry if their little baby was going to go to Hell or not.
So this was the image of baptism that I grew up with.  And this is the image that still haunts me.  The image of baptism as a fire escape.  The image of baptism as something that we do “To the baby” so that other terrible things don’t happen.  Probably for many of us, this image is still hanging around in our faith lives.  This is still an image that haunts us.
But, you know, this just doesn’t seem to make sense with what we read in the Bible.  The Psalmist tells us that God knew us, while we were “still in the womb.”  Baptism isn’t the point where God suddenly becomes aware of us, God know us before we are born!  Before we were born, before Morgan was born, we all were known by God and loved by God.
So, if baptism is not just a way of avoiding Hell, as I said before, a “Fire Escape” of a sacrament, if God new us from the womb, then why do we do it?
Well, we baptize as a way of saying to each other that we believe in God’s love.  We believe that God loves us and cares about us.  We baptize to tell each other, AND THE WORLD, that there is is a love that is more profound than anything we could ever know and that this wondrous love is for us!  We baptize, not as a means of making God love us, but in recognition for the love that is already there.
With the Christmas season coming, we are also entering the Season of Gifts.  Unfortunately, our world has taken the concept of gift and yanked it all out of proportion.  We have lost the concept of a gift as being something that is freely GIVEN with no expectation of anything in return.  A truly given gift is one that is given with no strings attached.  It is not given with the expectation that something bigger and better will be given in return.  A truly given gift is one that is given for the sole intent of pleasing the person who will be receiving the gift.  A truly given gift is given just to see the receiver smile.  There is no worry of repayment in a truly given gift, the only repayment that the giver receives is the joy that the gift bring.
All the gifts that we receive from God are, in fact, truly given gifts.  When God gives us a gift, no return payment is expected.  When God gives gifts, the only expectation is that we enjoy the gift; that we REVEL in the gift.  The only expectation is that we use the gift so much that we use the gift up!  But the strange thing about God’s gifts, we can never really use them up.  I have found that when we thing we have nothing left, God is there supplying more. 
In the sacrament of Baptism, we are saying, “YES!” to the wondrous gifts that God has for us.  We are saying “Yes!” to the love and care that we are given.  In baptism, we are saying “YES!” to the gift and sacrifice that Christ made for us; on our behalf.  We have been given a gift by our Savior, and in baptism, we are telling the whole world, “Yes!”
Sean, Helen, Erin, Renee, and Linda, in bringing Mary here to be baptized today, you too are saying “Yes!” to the promises of God.  You are saying “Yes!” to the promises of God in your own lives and you are promising to help Morgan see the wondrous gifts that God has given her.  By bringing her to be baptized, you are saying, “Yes!” for her for all the truly given gifts that we profess as part of our faith.  In bringing her here today, you are starting her down the road of love and wonder.
Mary’s baptism is not just a one-time event, though, it is something that will live with her and will grow with her.  Her baptism will be there to provide help and support.  We would hope that Mary’s life will be free of tears and trouble, but we all know that will never happen.  However, in her baptism, Mary will find the love and support of Christ that is reflected in the community of the Church.  Through her baptism, Mary will know that no matter what the world may tell her, she is special, loved and cherished.
This is why we baptize.  Baptism is our declaration to the world that even when thing may look lost, that we are not lost.  Baptism is our declaration to the world that there is something more to life than the idolatry and greed that we see.  Baptism is our declaration to all people that we have faith in a God that has forgiven our sins and loves us from the womb!
Some may think that the church is a little over decorated, today.  Maybe so, but why shouldn’t we celebrate?  Why shouldn’t we “bring out the good china?”  There is a new person in the world and we get to celebrate the fact that all the gifts and promises that God has given to us, God has given to Mary too!
I think it is great that we baptize babies.  This little person can do nothing to earn the wondrous gifts that she already has.  She has done NOTHING, but yet God has blessed her.  And there is nothing that she can do to earn the gift of love and forgiveness that was given in Christ.  Nothing!  All the wonders that God has for her are given, even before she would have any opportunity to prove her worthiness. 
On this day, we, too, need to remember that our baptism was a truly given gift.  Our baptism is the outward sign of the sacrifice made by our high priest Christ.  We didn’t earn it then and we couldn’t earn it now.  All we can do is take this gift and love it, use it, enjoy it!  REVEL IN IT!
Sean, Helen, Erin, Renee, and Linda, you have been given a great gift in Mary.  Love her, nurture her, help her to find the glorious gifts God has given her.  She is a special treasure and a child of God.  Help her to remember that every day of her life.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

I'll Give My Two Cents Worth

There’s a phrase that is not nearly as popular today perhaps as in years past.  That statement is, “I’ll throw in my two cents worth.”  In most cases, the person should have kept the two cents because that two cents worth really didn’t add anything of value to the conversation.  In general, two cents is pretty miniscule.

What can we get for two cents today?  We probably cannot even get what used to call “penny candy.”  Penny candy is now at least a dime and probably more likely a quarter.  Oh!  You can get a ride on Sandy the mechanical horse at Meijer, but not much more.  No, we can’t get much of anything for our two cents worth.  But two cents was all the woman in the Gospel story had.

She must have been pretty self conscious as she put her money in the treasury.  See, today we have nicely padded offering plates or baskets.  You can throw money into them and no one really knows how much or how little you’ve given.  Many people today give by check which makes no sound in the plate and most churches have gone to offering envelopes that make how much is given even more quiet.  But in biblical days things were different. 

First off, all the money was in the form of coins – no paper money, no checks, just coins – coins.  And these coins made noise!  Also, they didn’t have offering plates that got passed around.  They had big horn shaped receptacles where people came by and dropped their money.  When the money dropped in, it made noise.  It would clang and it would echo.  So, of course, the rich liked to give because the loud noise would let everyone know just how generous they were.

But the poor widow, she only had her two cents worth.  That amount of money would only make a poor, pitiful, “plink, plink” of a sound.  I can understand why she would wait until almost no one was nearby before she gave her money.  She was hoping that no one would hear how little she was giving.  Besides, with all that the “fat cats” were giving, she had to question what possible difference her two cents worth could make?  Let’s face it – most of us won’t even bend over to pick up a stray two cents.

She could have decided not to put anything in the collection and kept what little bit she had for herself.  She could have kept it – no one would even have known – but she gave it.  She gave all that she had and trusted that God could make something of it and that God would somehow sustain her.  That is a lot of faith and trust – I am not sure I would have been able to do the same in her situation.

In the reading from Kings, we have a similar story.  All that the widow had was just enough oil and meal to make a small piece of bread.  Why couldn’t she just go home and eat it with her son and then simply die either of starvation or more quickly, die of thirst as they were in the midst of a drought?  The prophet had the nerve to ask her for water.  Where was she supposed to get any water?  But this poor widow gave the bread and a bit of water to the prophet Elijah.  It probably amounted to about two cents worth – all she had, but she gave it.

Now lets turn to another example.  All this guy had was the entire universe and the immensity of all eternity.  He was the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega.  He was and is the ruler of all. He had it all and should never have to suffer or want for anything.  However, his people were suffering and in pain, they were lost and without hope.  He loved the world enough that he gave it all for others.  He felt our pain and ultimately gave the greatest gift possible – his very life in a gruesome and painful death.

Christ gave his life for us.  When he asks us to give, he isn’t asking for anything that he himself has not already done.  When he asks us to love, he knows what he speaks of.  When he asks us to be willing to risk, he knows what risk and sacrifice are all about.  When Christ asks us to give, he is not asking us to do anything he has not already done.

Everything we have is given to us by God.  We have talents, skill, gifts, likes and dislikes.  Sometimes we think that all we have is just our two cents worth.  We look at our little bit and have to ask, “What difference will my little bit make?”  Sometimes we think we shouldn’t even try because it doesn’t matter and besides, we need this little bit more than the church or that brother or sister in need.  But God calls us to give and gives us examples like those in our lessons today.

The widow is the Gospel is lifted up because of her trust in God.  She gives all she has and then trusts in God.  She does not worry about her own needs; she trusts that God will see to them.

The widow in the OT lesson is cared for because she trusted in God.  Not only is she saved from starving to death, but her whole household is preserved because of her faith.

So where am I going with all this?  Am I suggesting that we should give everything away?  In some ways that wouldn’t be a bad thing, but it is unrealistic.  Does that mean that we shouldn’t even bother trying?  No – we are called as a people to give as God has given to us.

Jesus placed the discipline and challenge of giving before us not to intimidate or shame us, but to challenge us to be the Body of Christ in the world – to see needs and be willing to respond; to be willing to make do with less in order to reach out to others; to trust that God will provide rather than relying on ourselves and what the world “gives” us.

Jesus wants us to live life and to live it abundantly.  However, he does not want us to rely on idols like possessions and money, power, or fame, but to fully rely on God’s goodness and that God will provide.  The goal of giving that is put before us is there to motivate us to be the body of Christ in the world.  We need to begin to see the world through God’s eyes.

To what is God calling us today as individuals and as a congregation?  Some would say that St. Augustine is just a small church and that we can’t make much of a difference in this community let alone the world.  But St. Augustine has made and is making a difference, starting right here with each one of us, and proclaiming love, hope, peace and joy to a people and a world in need. 

Last week, I gave you a domino to remind you how you fit into the great cloud of witnesses, the Communion of Saints.  Today I give you two cents. 

There is a story about how Mother Theresa wanted to start an orphanage.  She was told that how could she hope to start an orphanage, all she had was two cents.  She said, “For me it would be impossible, but with God and my two cents, anything is possible.”  Take these two cents and let them be a challenge to you.  Let us, with our two cents worth share our gifts with each other, with God, and with the world.

If you have the gift of gab, get out there and visit with those who cannot get out.  If you have the gift of teaching, who might God be calling you to teach?  If you have the gift of hospitality, I bet God is asking you to welcome those who come into our midst.  If you are a tinkerer, maybe God is asking you to come up with some innovative ways to look at problems and find creative ways to solve them.

We may feel like we, personally or as a congregation, may not have a lot to give.  We may feel like we only have a measly two cents to give.  We may feel like our gift would not have any effect at all.  But we would be wrong!  We have our gift, we have our two cents to give.  And if we are willing to give what we have, and are willing to trust in God, who knows what can happen!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Yes, I Hate Her.

I was all ready to go out on a major job hunt.  I was about to pitch the whole church thing and decide that being a clergy being was now something that was in my past.  I was all ready to tell the deacon that we needed to start working on how to move myself out of the congregation and how to get the congregation relying on themselves.  I was all ready to have this happen!  Well, yep, you guessed it!


The deacon (actually, Archdeacon) told me that after talking with the Bishop and telling him about what has been happening with the congregation, she is going to back out of the picture and I am being allowed to fly solo.  She said that I needed to get everyone out of my way and just be allowed to be.  She told me she has seen immense growth in this congregation and is very excited about what is happening! 

I was a bit whiny about how hard things have been going lately, but the deacon said, "God NEVER promised it was going to be easy."

I still want to find a new job, though.  I need to get out of Starbucks land and get somewhere where I can work and where the job doesn't attack me as a person.

I had the day off today and was quite irresponsible!  It was wonderful! 

Tomorrow, I have to get a sermon done.  Have to work on glass.  And have to do some research on baptisms.  Nick will be gone for the day and for Sunday, so I will be, to quote Lemuel, Homo Alone.  Hopefully I will be able to get a lot done tomorrow.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Why Reinvent The Wheel?

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My Lifestyle is an affront to me!

It is really a bit of a problem when what you do is in direct opposition to who you are. I am not talking about some big homo/hetero thing here. What I am talking about is an introvert/extrovert thing.

I am really VERY introverted. I can function in the world, but after a while, I need to get away. It really wears me down when I cannot get renewal time. This is something that other introverts will understand, and something that many extroverts just don't get.

I know my career is not the best for introverts. Being a clergy means that one needs to be out in the public world. But also, being a clergy means that we usually have an office into which we can retreat.

But when you are an introverted clergy who also works at Starbucks, it gets crazy. There seems to be no way to get recharged. The job involves being in an area with no escape, dealing with people who are just being what they should be, self-centered consumers. There is no way to get out of the spotlight.

Yesterday I had one of those humiliating events happen. Being closed into close working surroundings with someone who is acting very childish.(This person is 19 and is painfully extroverted.) I tend to back away because he can be so overbearing, but he sees it as rejection. He sees the overbearing as "trying to cheer you up!" I have tried to explain but it does no good. In many ways, this feels as attacking as a physical attack. I could not get away from the behavior. I could not get the person to talk to me. I just about walked off the job. All this for just $8.50 an hour without tips.

My problem is that when I get cornered, I go into escape overdrive. Major panic attack mode. THIS IS VERY EMBARRASSING! I don't want to return today because I am embarrassed for my actions. I feel like some kind of drama queen.

I just want to do my job.