Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Waiting...Still Waiting....

Yup, here it is March 26th and we are still waiting for Spring. It would be wonderful to have a day or two of 50+ degrees days. At least the sun is shining for now, and the birds are chirping. The daffodil leaves are poking up as are the tulips and crocuses. They have been poking up for awhile but then the snow covers them back up again. But like clockwork, they rise up from the cold hard ground amongst the weeds that didn't get removed last fall and the encroaching pin cushion plant babies running amok.
But, O, for a day or two of a bit warmer weather. The spirit aches and the soul and body longs for spring to arrive.
We must have had one of the coldest March's on record. Not even to have a stray 60 degree day somewhere in the month.
So, I wait just awhile longer and hope that soon, soon, there will be some warmer days.

This Meme has been going around and I'll take a stab at it.
In 25 words or less:

1. What is your earliest memory of being distinctly Presbyterian?
That would be first grade. I was frustrated at being the only Presbyterian
in my class and not being able to spell it. Growing up in an Italian Roman
Catholic town, I was an anomaly. Made me feel really different. I wanted to
be Lutheran, because it was easier to spell.

2. On what issue/question should the PC(USA) spend LESS energy and time?
Well, gee...mmm...think it might be the sexuality and ordination issue?
It has torn the Episcopal church apart, it's tearing ours apart and the
Lutherans are not far behind.
3. On what issue/question should the PC(USA) spend MORE energy and time?
Spiritual formation, outreach and mission, can anyone say ACTS 2:42?
4. If you could have the PC(USA) focus on one passage of scripture for an entire
year, what would it be?
Colossian 3:12-17
5. If the PC(USA) were an animal what would it be and why?
A sheep that has gone astray by nibbling its way slowly and steadily from
it's center
Extra Credit: Jesus shows up at GA this year, what does he say to the PC(USA)?
see Presbyterian Gal!
Keep it simple. Love me, serve the God's kingdom, love and serve
one another. Pray for one another. Matthew 25:31-46

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


It was a funny lent, not funny haha, just funny more like different. Perhaps, because it was so early, I didn't have enough space to plan. Then with the snow and ice, 3 of our Lenten breakfasts were cancelled, 1 Lenten soup supper and I Lenten Sunday worship service. Then before you knew it, it was Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter! Wheew! It all come much too fast.
Getting up at 5 am for the very, very chilly sunrise service at 7:15 am was not pleasant at all! The Methodist neighboring pastor changed the location from just outside our church doors to down by the cemetary - 1 block from the church. Not far but when it's merely 23 degrees outside it's just too cold. She spoke a wee bit longer than necessary. We processed into the darkened church, blew out our candles and warmed up in our fellowship hall with the bank of east windows where the sunrise was wonderfully visible and light. The rest of the service went well and the breakfast was great and the sun poured into the windows bathing us all in a glorious bright light.
After breakfast, I helped clean up. Set up the baskets of rocks for the ushers and took a few moments of quiet.
We had a wonderful worship by the grace of God, with the church much fuller than usual, a few more kids up front for the children's chat, blooming tulips and budded but not yet blooming Easter lilies. This is the first Easter I can ever remember when not lily had a flowering bloom! I mentioned that Easter was so early this year not even the lilies had a chance to open!!!! Everyone recieved a rock and how God can remove the rocks in our lives even as God removed the rock that entombed Jesus. With the rocks removed, we are given new and everlasting and abundant life.
Communion was a joy to celebrate.
I finally got home at 1 pm ready for the egg salad sandwich I put together quickly.
After changing into comfy sweats, I feel asleep on the couch for just over an hour. LH slept more since he finished lunch and got upstairs before I went up to change.
Had a lazy day and made supper of crab cakes, fettucini, broccoli, cauliflower, and LH's homemade Newburg Sauce (even better made with tomato paste instead of ketchup). We enjoyed a couple Pirouline Wafers (Rolled with chocolate hazelnut creme - mmmmmmmmm....)for dessert.
Yesterday, I was wonderfully granted as a reading day. I was able to sleep in and spent the day reading: Becoming a Blessed Church by N. Graham Standish.
Yayyyy! Got it finished and began Robert Fulghum's new book, What Have I Done?
So, it was a quiet, gentle, and productive day.
Fortunately, I did work ahead and have the liturgy together for our Joy Sunday this coming Sunday, March 30th which includes a baptism. Now, all I need is to work up a sermon!
Now there is some breathing space although I know April and May will fly by quickly. For now, there is this post-easter space to simply be in the light of our Lord's resurrection.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Had a good, but hard visit with a parishioner with lung cancer that has spread to the brain. It is a Good Friday time-dark, bleak with death all around and a deep grief. We cried together. I pray that I and the church will help walk her home, difficult as that always is. And in all this grief lies the promise of Easter, the new and everlasting life that awaits us all, that the risen Christ brings to us. I cling to that promise, especially now, in the gut-wrenching, heartache of life right now. Our only hope, is the hope of our faith, the hope of our risen Lord. It is in that hope that we live and die and live again. It is in that hope that we walk through our days, that we walk through this Holy Week to the Cross.
On Monday night, the Men's AA group was still meeting after Session meeting was over. A woman stood in the hallway and I asked if I could help her. She said there had been a family emergency and they were getting their relative out of the meeting - apparently a 15 year old had committed suicide. As the two men joined this woman, eyes welled up with tears, numb with shock, not knowing what to think or feel, I offered to pray with them and for them.
Another parishioner is facing throat cancer and still awaiting results and a meeting with the doctor to see what treatment might be best.
This Holy Week has been filled with grief and echoes the grief even yet to come.
And that is why our Lord gave himself away on the cross. There was no other way for us or through this. The power of Easter seems even greater this year. We are God's now and forever, in this life and in the new life we will be birthed into even as we leave this world and shed our bodies. Life is ours! Life will always be ours!
Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

War Has Been Officially Declared:
Had a good Lenten breakfast this morning with about 30 between the Methodist church and ours. This has been the third breakfast out of six. Half had to be cancelled because of the weather. The last one will be next week. Fortunately, I'll be doing a longer piece on "Living in Grace" tomorrow evening at LH's church for their once a month Mugs N Muffins Young Adult Bible Study. I pray it will go well.
Because of having to cancel worship on Sunday, I am actually going into Holy Week better prepared and rested than usual. Neither LH or I have been sick! A major church season without sickness, has to be the first in a long time.
We've heard the call the red-winged blackbird last Thursday before the major snow, on Sunday towards evening and again the other morning. Robins are around all year and it is the blackbird that is a true sign of spring. Now, if we could just melt the snow away and warm up some!!!
This morning while looking out the kitchen window, I saw a sparrow in the bluebird box. The hole in the box was plugged up all winter. It was plugged up yesterday. I don't know what the sparrows did with the rag plugging up the hole. I didn't see it lying on the ground, course it and the snow are both white. Perhaps they shoved it into the box. The drifts back there are still deeper than I want to walk through but I am livid. War is now declared on the sparrows. They are persistent little buggers!!!!
So, in a way, spring must be right on the way, if the War on Sparrows has begun!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Living La Vida Arctic:

And so it snowed and snowed and snowed with a fairly good wind. Late Sat. afternoon, I let the dogs out and let them in and the sliding glass door to the backyard wouldn't, couldn't be shut all the way. Snow was blowing into the house where the 2 doors bypass each other, just blew in like it was outside and not inside a house. The 1 1/2 inch gap where the door couldn't quite reach the frame wasn't snowing in hardly at all. It was so weird. LH helped get towels to stick in between the doors. I ran down for plastic sheeting and duct tape and could only find plastic packing tape. (Why is it, in an emergency, I simply can't find what I need?)
By the time we had the 2 ends of the door stopped with towels, covered in plastic and tape that didn't want to stick to wet glass, I had removed over 5 sherbet container tubs of snow! The wind was wicked and just blew in with a vengence.
Of course, now that the door was frozen open and unuseable, we had to harness the greys and coax them down the garage steps and out the overhead garage door, since the snowdrifts at the side door were the height of greyhounds. The were discombobulated as to why it was ok to do their business on the driveway (which was snow covered even after being snowthrowed clean). So everytime they had to go out, it was put on boots, heavy coat, scarf, hat and mittens and leash the dogs, and trek outside. The worst is always first thing in the morning, when you're still half asleep and throw on your sweats and take them out. Ugghhh...
Fortunately, it was sunny on Sunday and between the radiant heat from the afternoon sun and the heat of my hair blowdryer, we managed to get the door unstuck and mop the melted ice that collected quicker than the blink of an eye. How glorious
to be able to use the door again. The dogs could just run out, they could freely roam and frollick in the snow, and I could be warm and dry in the kitchen without boots, hats and scarves!!!
I am so looking forward to spring! I've lived La Vita Arctic. Enough!!!

Saturday, March 08, 2008


We are presently being buried under vast quantities of snow. The wind is blowing and drifting the snow as well. It does not look good for holding worship tomorrow morning. I'm still pondering how I will traverse the state route to get to church, or which state route to try. Many of our folks are older and won't attempte to go out, which is wise. Several churches in NE OH are already cancelling their worship services. So far in my 4 years at Country Church we have had to cancel Sunday worship nearly 1 Sunday every winter due to adverse weather. Looks like tomorrow will be our Sunday to cancel. This, of course, on the Sunday when clocks are ahead one hour as well.
The weather forecast says that it will be near fifty degrees by the end of the week!
Yup, that's NE OH for you!
Even the greyhounds, with their long spindly legs are having to plow through the snow in the backyard. Good thing we don't have a Yorkie!!!
It's back to work on the Maundy Thursday service.
It's disappointing about worship tomorrow. I was planning to bring in a beef shank bone which the dogs have completely chewed cleaned and which have been washed and dried and are really bleached-out looking for the children's sermon. Sigh. Guess I'll save it all for 3 years from now!!!!
May all your services go well and be a blessing to you, leaders, and to all who will join together in worship tomorrow. I and our faithful will worship with you in spirit in our homes.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


(I'm making up for lost time by posting twice today!)

I am beginning to feel like Jonah. I have tried to squirm my way out of Jury Duty with only limited results!
The Judge in County we live in had my number last year. I tried to excuse myself claimly (rightly) that I am a solo pastor. He didn't accept that as an excuse. So, every evening I had to call in and see if I was to report. He never seated a jury all that week. I was relieved after such a week of being on tenterhooks. I should be safe for years.
Nope. The Judge has called my number again and I was scheduled for next week. Yah, right before Holy Week, extra services and two late evenings that week. So, I pleaded again that as a Solo pastor and right before Holy Week was a hardship. Maybe the Judge does go to church. I was excused! Yipee!!!
Read the next paragraph of his letter and I'm rescheduled for the week of May 5th. Dum, Dum, Da-dum...
The Judge will not rest until I serve on his jury. He will not let me go. He will continue to hound me, to seek me out, to call my number and demand my presence in his courtroom. I know what Jonah feels like. I can run, but will be found and caught. There is no escape, until I serve as I have been called to serve. Sigh.
I'm thinking maybe I should give the Judge LH's number. There's a fish that's never been caught!!!!
I served Jury Duty in Chicago while in Seminary, scared that I would have to serve on a trial and miss classes and have to take a semester over. Mercifully, my number wasn't called that day and I was done.
Then I got called up to Jury Duty while in the City on the North Coast. Fortunately, they accepted my excuse as being a solo pastor and I was excused.
LH has yet to ever be called up.
I am Jonah...

Yikes!!! It's already March and I've been busy.
LH and I spent the better part of Leap Day, driving up to the Big City on the Northcoast to meet with our tax preparer. It snowed slushy snow all the way there and took a bit longer. Afterwards, we went to the Great Market and found some Arctic Char and Great Lakes Whitefish! Yipee! We scored! I found a bone for Jett. There was only one acceptable bone. Poor Ben. He got a couple extra Milkbones. Pounced on some fresh asparagus and garlic.
When we got home, I still had to run to the grocery store for other incidentals.
Saturday, I worked on the Maundy Thursday service and Sunday's service.
Sunday was another Soup Supper at a neighboring church just 8 miles from home and 15 minutes one way.
I may have a very sick parishioner on my hands next week, depending on the diagnosis. The pre-diagnosis is pretty awful.
Our Wed. Lenten breakfast was cancelled due to ice. There's a beautiful icy coating on the trees, bushes, and yes, even the grass. Yesterday, for a brief moment
a beam of sunshine broke through the overcast skies and just sparkled up the birch tree and grass in our backyard around suppertime. It was most amazingly gorgeous.
So, that's where I've been and how February slide into March before I could write!