Monday, April 17, 2017

POST EASTER

My, what a busy Lent it was! And then there was Holy Week. Most of which went well - aside from
a memorial service I will prepare and do this coming Saturday. (Not to mention the two in May).
   Maundy Thursday went very well and the stripping of the altar done by just two women was efficient and nicely done.
   Good Friday was planned very well (by moi). The acolyte attempted to extinguish the first candle to early. The choir (which has just started up after a year or two hiatus) sang (you won't believe this! and try not to cringe!) "In the Garden". I know, the most inappropriate hymn for Good Friday. I would have nixed it, except it was the first time they were singing for a service and I just couldn't in all good conscience, squash their spirit. If I am still there next year - it will be an appropriate piece for Good Friday. Our organist who is a senior at a local university, just the nicest and very talented
young man, still needs some seasoning and has some learning edges. I have never sung, "Ah Holy Jesus" and "O Sacred Head Now Wounded" so fast in my entire career in ministry! I guess I needed to remind him that the service is more contemplative than any other in the church year. I do commend him that he doesn't drag hymns on normal Sundays, however, this was Good Friday! I will speak with him about that this Saturday. He did a great job soloing "Where You There?" in the darkness of the
sanctuary. Oh, and the one working the lights brought up the one aisle light as the organist began to
sang and the acolyte was sent to tell him to turn it off until after the singing! Sigh. What is it with Lutherans not wanting to be in the dark? The last L church had a hard time turning off ALL the lights, and this one turned them all off and too quickly put some back on!!
   Easter morning began at 5:20 am for me when I got up. The first worship was at 8 am and it was very good. Then a breakfast followed. An Easter Egg Hunt or rather, Gathering - as they were not hard to spot, took place following/during breakfast. The second service was at 10:30 am. I guess I was a bit tired - and for whatever reason missed saying the Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer. Instead
I nodded to the Organist to play "Holy, Holy, Holy" as within the very first phrase, I realized what
I had done! Mortified I was! As soon as we finished singing, I said the Preface and stated, that we "praised" and "had joined in the song of all the choirs of angels, etc." Then I went into the Words of Institution and all followed well after that. Everyone got their foamie butterfly stickers and enjoyed my Easter message! Thanks be to God! I survived, not without glitches, but with grace beyond me,
and I am ever grateful to God. Several folks mentioned how good Maundy Thurs and Good Friday
services were - despite the choir anthem and singing too fast a couple of hymns. Perhaps, grace
abounds even when and despite things going wrong and the Spirit is at work in spite and despite
us. That's is grace and blessing.
   I am off today to recover. I have a massage scheduled for this afternoon. Thanks to my sister and her gift of a certificate!
   Then hopefully, I will be ready for the church council meeting this evening, putting a memorial sermon together for Sat. and all that this week will bring and unfold.
   May the grace of Easter abound in your life and bring you to life.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

10 BUCKS

Here we are in the midst of Lent or just past the middle of Lent and it has been a hectic time. I also had 4 funerals in the space of about 5 weeks and lost three days off!
   Our vaccum hose and powerbrush died (central vac system) and after 13 years of faithful service -
had to be replaced, to the tune of $700.00! 
   Then my laptop got ill and had to get healed - what is it about Advent and Lent that seems to bring my computer down? Not knowing for how long I can trust my laptop, I broke down and bought a new one. I am still working with both of them and having to learn this new one.
  The L church I am serving has Wed. noon brief (30 min or less) services and lunches during Lent. Our church is host, and the other mainlines churches lead worship and do lunch on one of the Wed.
Only this year, 3 churches were in transition and one is so small and old they couldn't take on a Wed.
So, I was the one to contact the churches, schedule their Wednesday and got left with doing 2 Wednesdays myself. Today, will be my 2nd Wednesday. Sigh.
  The M church I also serve is planning for a mission trip to Liberia this summer and will be doing
2 weeks of VBS. The denomination has a mission school in Liberia. One of M's members has been
over twice and even "adopted" a boy - paying for his schooling.
   So this past Sunday, they held a fundraiser after worship. A local soup restaurant donated three kinds of soup and served it to folks. For a $10.00 donation, you could get a plain white paper placemat and decorate it for a Liberian child in VBS. Each placemat will get laminated and given to a child. How cool is that?
  Being as I couldn't attend the soup lunch as I am at L church on Sundays, I plopped my 10 bucks
down and took a placemat to decorate at home. Just $10.00 will fed a child in VBS a bowl of soup every day for 2 weeks! It was the best 10 bucks I have ever spent!
   How often does 10 bucks slip through our fingers at the gas station, card shop, grocery store, our favorite coffee shop with our hardly even noticing it?
   What a difference and what a life those same 10 bucks can have and bring and touch some child half way around the world in one of the poorest African nations?
   That's the biggest bang for 10 bucks one can get and oh, the joy it brings and is - to that one
child, and to this one, me.
   In these remaining days of Lent, see how you can give and get the best bang out of 10 bucks within your denomination or community. Make it the best 10 bucks you ever spend!
  

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

WELCOME 2017

I survived the Advent/Christmas marathon! Lots of church stuff, services, cooking and cleaning. But now, ahh...a moment's reprieve! A bit of breathing space before planning early communion class and Lent!
  In 2016, I ended an extended interim position and begin a new interim position - right in the town where I live. The commute is great - the fishbowlesque life - perhaps not so. I like a low profile and being broadcast on the city's channel is not my cup of tea! The sound person just has to cut my sound before I sing. Or I have to be more on top of turning the mike on and off!
  I put together favors for my niece's bridal shower and with several brilliant and resourceful women escaped from the escape room with seconds to spare!
   I officiated my niece's wedding - who would've ever thought she'd marry?!!? Surprise! And to a really nice guy. So I enjoyed a wedding I thought would never happen! And got to spend a long weekend with my family! Including Colorado nephew, his wife and my great niece!
   I received my first speeding ticket in 28 years and my first ever in a foreign country! If you're gonna get a speeding ticket might as well go all the way. At least it won't show up as points on my driver's license here in OH!!!!
   I have cleaned house more times than I can count, cooked more meals than I can remember, and wrapped and packed Christmas gifts which all got to their respective recipients in time for Christmas and the Christmas cards and letters all got sent in time.
   I did not get the Siberian Iris leaves cut down before the first snow. I still haven't gotten to them. Now I have to wait until the arctic blast is over. Maybe it will warm up in 10 days.
  I was tired a lot in 2016. I think it carried over into 2017! I am beginning to believe that as I slowly approach 60, it's just kinda that way.
   So what will 2017 bring?
   I pray more time to be: to simply be, to be with God, to be more grounded and not let the days,
weeks, months slip by me.
   I pray for good health, employment, time with family, and a summer trip to WI - after all, we
missed out on our garlic dill cheese curds and smoked salmon this year!
   I pray for wisdom, creativity, and strength in serving the church I am presently at, and ideas for
the 500th anniversary of the Reformation!
  I pray that when the time comes - I will be able to let Jazz go. He will tell me when its time to cross Rainbow Bridge.
  To live into my star word of "vitality"!
  Mostly, 2017 is in God's hands and I will be content in its unfolding.
  May 2017 be a blessing and be blessed to us all.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

CRUNCH TIME

Indeed, it is Crunch Time. Thanksgiving is just a week away! Advent starts a week from Sunday!
I am caught up in a whirlwind of activity.
   I have council Monday night and thankfully, folks were ok with cancelling Tuesday evening Bible Study. Tues is my pick up the turkey and veggies and make stock and rice night. I simply can't be up til 1 am and be in the office the next morning. I am getting too old for that kind of thing.
   I will have to clean house this Friday, declutter the dining room table, pick up a couple of items so that I will be ready for two days of prep and cooking and the day of Thanksgiving. It will all get done and happen.
   Then there is the yearly Christmas letter and cards to write and send. The German one takes at least a couple hours to write.
   Gifts need to be wrapped, packaged and sent.
   Worship services to plan and prepare for. This year being a wee crazy with Christmas eve and Christmas Day service since Christmas falls on a Sunday. We are inviting kids to wear their pj's and adults their Christmas sweaters! It will be a bit less formal and probably shorter than an hour. I don't anticipate there will be many in church.
   Christmas Eve will be a variation of Lessons and Carols and I will do my special communion - with bread in the manger - praying and hoping the visual will touch people as to the gift of God's love come to us, given to us, the life, love, hope, joy and peace and the giving of Christ to us and for us.
   On the third Sunday of Advent, the Bishop will be preaching and presiding and I will be more nervous than normal! It's not every Sunday that one is graced with the Bishop's presence. I have helped with the cooperative confirmation service at which the Bishop presided, but I was just one of many pastors taking part in the service. This is more shoulder to shoulder. I pray I won't goof up on anything that evening. The service will be Saturday and they are cancelling Sunday morning so that everyone will attend Sat. evening and stay for the potluck dinner.
   Then, of course, it'll be New Year's day - and I have to make sure I have all the star words to give out. That will need to happen before long.
    Sigh. I know it will get done, but it is a daunting list and a daunting time.
    I need to remember to pace myself and make space for God to be a part of it all. I will make it through by the grace and help of God.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

RAINY AUTUMN DAY

It's a rainy autumn day and I am back stateside after our trip across the pond and a well-earned, well deserved vacation!
  I did most of the driving in our rented Peugot, which actually I kinda liked. It handled real well. I drove more than I had expected. I did make it up to 140 kph on the Autobahn. We were fortunate to have visited a few Luther sites - although we didn't make it to Eisleben - thanks to all the detours of road construction that weren't necessarily really well marked and losing time by driving through Luther country!!! We did enjoy Wittenberg very much - lovely old town. Unfortunately, the Luther house was closed - which we knew before we left - but it was awesome just to see the outside and know the Luthers lived there. We strolled around Wittenberg which is very stroll friendly and besides
the church, we poked in some shops. Wartburg Castle was also an amazing place. Take the tour, it's worth it otherwise you just see the Luther Room and don't get to see the other parts of the castle. As with all museums, historic sites around the world - you get dumped into the gift shop at the very end!
   Leipzig is a big city and our hotel was on a tram line. Thanks be to God! Parking is horrendous in Europe. We took the tram in and had a marvelous day at St. Thomas and St. Maria churches. St. Thomas is where JS Bach was the organist and my favorite composer. It was a wonderful church with 2 organs. We stayed for quite a while soaking up the history, atmosphere and of music, that transcends time and still touches lives today. Mendelsohn was also composer in Leipzig and there is a statue of him as well. LH bought me two Christmas presents from St. Thomas Kirche!
   We ate well - guess Europeans haven't learned portion control! We never really had a bad meal. Lots of venison as it was game season, and some wild boar. Across from our hotel in Leipzig was a Lebanese restaurant that had the most scrumptious gyro so wonderfully seasoned and different from the ones here.
   In Eisenach, I had a meltdown when I mistakenly drove into the humungous parking lot of a Bosch factory, ran into construction traffic on the way to Wartburg Castle, and then when I should have
turned left into our hotel (there was a sign that had an arrow and 50 meters) but LH said to keep going. You couldn't see the hotel from the road at all. We had seen it when we entered town from the Autobahn. The road looped back to the autobahn and we took the other road and there was the hotel on our left. They had no restaurant, this being the budget hotel with rooms like a dorm room, so that
meant I had to drive back into Eisenach, whose old town is full of one way streets and no parking.
I said that we would stop at the first place we saw. Well, the first place was Burger King - not happening, the second place was a pizza joint - not really. Then I followed a parking garage sign that lead to a small parking garage. The side street was under construction and gravelly. We walked along it and onto the bigger street and lo and behold, a restaurant. There was a huge fountain in front of it.
It was a bit Italian with homemade noodles. LH had liver and onions and I had pork with a gorgonzola b├ęchamel sauce that was to die for. I would've licked the plate if it wouldn't have been gauche!!!! Bellies full we headed back and found the hotel, no problem.
  We spent a day in Luzern shopping and walking, we went up on the Rigi the next and got the panoramic view of the Alps, we spent a day in Alsace - Riquewhir - a lovely old, historic town full of shops, pottery, wine tasting, and restaurants. We enjoyed a cousin gathering of 34 related cousins and many were not able to attend. We ate well with lots of talk and family history until the restaurant kicked us out!!!!!!!!
   I spent a an afternoon with my closest cousin and her husband and enjoyed out dinner and time together.
   We savored fresh croissants, Buenderfleisch (air dried beef) Langjaeger (a jerky sausage), baked perch, and all good things. Shopped for chocolate and cheese.
   Spent time with my godmother and marveled at how much older we are all getting.
   So much has changed in 4 years and 6 years since I was last there. A lot more traffic and lots of
buildings. It was a bit sad - as it Switzerland is losing some of its charm. I did get to hear cow bells and that was just what my soul needed. Everything is so expensive. Germany and France were
 a bit cheaper.
   Now, it's starting a new L church as their interim - just 7 minutes door to door! But they want 3/4 time at 1/2 time. It will keep me busy and on my toes.
   All is well. All is good. I have been refreshed and renewed and back to driving where I know where I'm going!!!!
  

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

SO LOVED

Never have I felt so loved by a congregation than L church. My last Sunday was a week ago Sunday, Sept. 25.
  To my surprise, there was a thanksgiving for conclusion for interim time that the council president fashioned from sources because she wanted more than just the denominational one. All council members took part at various places in the sanctuary.
   Following worship, I was expecting cake and coffee, but there was a hot lunch with chicken, green and wax beans, roasted potatoes, salad and rolls. The council president who bakes made the most beautiful cake and it tasted as delicious as it was beautiful.
   The council president presented me with a copper faith bracelet, a CD of  thanks and well wishes by members of the church and even some nursing home and homebound folks. I couldn't watch it for a few days and had the Kleenex box handy. There was a candle - in the four years with them I burned through a candle at council meetings! There was a card full of cash. There was a table of gifts. And lots of cards. I was sent home with a meal for LH and I, lots of stuff and, more love than I have ever experienced being just an interim.
   I might have expected this at the end of a called pastorate, but for an interim? I was blown away and deeply touched and truly moved. I do feel that I left them better than when I came to them. I pray it continues to just get better. I will miss them all and do miss them.
  It's moments like this that makes up and over for the really crappy ones and makes me feel as though I was about the right things and have touched lives with the heart of Christ.
   Since, then, I had to write a newsletter article for the other L church, I will begin serving the end of Oct. They wanted an Oct newsletter article before I even started. I also officiated their Sat. evening
worship as they were in a bind with no one. In a way, it was good I did, so I see how it is done.
   This past Sunday, I was finally able to worship at M church on World Communion Sunday. I just
felt I needed to be in a faith community celebrating communion. Well, the senior pastor was thrilled and had be preside over communion. Fine. First time in worship with no clue as to how they do things and I'm presiding at the Table!! It all went well after a quick tutorial before worship. There were 2 services with Sunday School inbetween. I got 10 minutes earlier than I had been and got home 20 minutes later than at L church!!! It was a very service with a baptism, receiving new members and communion. I was  tired.
   Did I mention that I started getting sick on Tues and couldn't make it in to M church on Thurs. Spent the day on the couch and slept a lot. I'm still coughing and still a bit stuffed up.\
   So, since I left my position, it's been just as busy as ever.
   Next week - vacation! 2 weeks! Out of the country! No cell phone!
   Now if only LH doesn't get too sick - he's stuffed up now too - we'll be good!
  Loved. Loved beyond measure. Loved beyond being just a mere interim. I feel so blessed!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

DID I EVER MENTION

that God has the most marvelous sense of humor?
Perhaps, in the midst of seasons changing, my leave-taking of one position, and everything going on in the world, a little levity might be in order.
   It was a very hot and dry summer here just south of the North Coast. Many days in the 90's, a real summer. But dry, dry, dry. I had to water the garden and flower beds. A lot. All the lawns in the subdivision were brown - California lawns - well, except for the one fellow who has an in-ground sprinkling system and uses it. It looked something out of the movie, "Erin Brokovich" - where Hinckley is yellow. Hot. Arid.
   One evening while we (LH and I) were eating dinner, there were clouds in the sky but the sun was shining. There were some darker clouds to the North and some to the South, but the sun shone on us.
I remember thinking and probably saying to LH, (more than a few times during the summer), "If only
we could some rain." While I was putting dishes into the dishwasher, and looked out the kitchen windows, lo and behold, it was sprinkling while the sun was shining. I looked over at our next door neighbor's and not a drop fell there. Their deck and gas grill cover was dry as ever. The rain was over my little herb garden.
  Amazing. I ran to the front door and went out on the porch to see the few drops. There was absolutely none at all.
   I smiled and threw my head back and laughed. I could imagine God saying, "Well, you asked for a little rain!"
  And it landed right in the herb garden!
Ha Ha Ha.
   We enjoyed the joke - God and I.
  And it reminded me that God and I are on good terms. When there is humor between us, I know that all is well between us.
   And it was a good joke and full of mirthful delight!