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Archive for April, 2011

Bright Sunday?

It’s that time of year again, Eastertide! And the first Sunday after Easter is known by many names: Bright Sunday, Holy Humor/Hilarity Sunday, Risus Paschalis. I used to refer to the Sundays after the highest holy days as AM Sundays; that is, Associate Minister Sundays because it is inevitable that the associate minister will be preaching. Often these Sundays are “low Sundays” because attendance takes a dip or a dive from the soaring figures of the Big Holy Days. Maybe that’s why I latched on to the Risus Paschalis?

It seems to me we all deserve a good laugh after Lent. Easter is so joyful and triumphant, why not carry it on with a few good laughs?

I won’t be preaching tomorrow, but I do plan on going to church. Looking back on some of my older entries here, it seems my wondering has come to bear. I’m not serving in active ministry, so I’m back to experiencing worship as a person in the pew. Perhaps God is trying to teach me that lesson I seemed to want to learn–am I meant for long term parish ministry or does God have other opportunities in mind for me? Can I be gifted for ministry and not serve in a parish? What else can I do and still count it ministry? Why is it that I feel the need to have an official title and role to be empowered to do ministry? If I lived somewhere else, would I feel empowered to minister?

I’ve been so disheartened by my previous church and my health, that I feel I’ve become too withdrawn, too self-focused, too self-protective. What do I do next? How do I get over the selfish protection of my time? Isn’t it all God’s time, and don’t I just borrow it?

I’m not melancholy all the time, but I do hope we have a good laugh at church tomorrow.

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With the RevGalsBlogPals:

1) Will you be watching? YES!

If so, is this your first royal wedding?

No. My first was Charles & Diana, then Andrew & Fergie.

2) The bride has chosen as her wedding cake a fruitcake. Where do you stand on this pastry?

Squarely in the middle, where the nuts are concentrated, it’s a firmer spot. Just kidding! I actually like fruitcake, but I must say it’s because I am related to people who know what good fruitcake is and how to make it. And, nodding to my family heritage, the top tier of my wedding cake was a traditional fruitcake baked by my mother and reserved for eating on our first anniversary.

3) The dress code for royal weddings has not seen the same sad decline as that for most other weddings. If you could design your own royal wedding hat, what color would it be and what special decoration would it feature?

I think I’d like a Robin’s Egg Blue with some lovely white tule and bits of lace.

4)  Any chance the Archbishop of Canterbury is using a Sustainable Sermon (tip of the mitre to the Vicar of Hogsmeade)? What would you tell the couple were you offering the homily?

Actually, it was the Bishop of London who preached, and I thought he nailed it! But I’d have been tempted to say something about the legacy that Diana left for them to continue. I think he got it without having to say so directly. Watching the couple, I might also have been tempted to do something to keep their attention. They looked like they could have fallen asleep (understandably so since they likely had a short sleep the night before!).

5) Believe it or not, kathrynzj is getting up early mostly to see the wedding dress. By the time this post is up, the world will have seen it. Did you like it?

I loved it! I thought it was so elegant, appropriate, classic, beautifully fitted, and gorgeous. I loved the act that it was so modest and covered her without looking dowdy. Most of today’s brides show WAY too much skin in the church. I do hope the designers will make this demure style a trend!

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On Sneezing

I was at a school program back in December when a man standing behind me sneezed. I turned and said, “God bless you.” His friend standing next to him marveled at my gesture and remarked that you hardly ever hear anyone say “bless you” anymore, even less “God bless you.” Call me old fashioned, I don’t mind, but it just seems polite. It’s a way of saying, “I heard you sneeze and I hope you are not ill; but if you are, I hope you get better soon.”

As to why we don’t generally hear it much anymore, I suppose it’s related to how individualistic we have become, so self-important and yet self-isolated. We don’t want people, strangers, in our business even if it’s just to wish us well.

And to say “God bless you” of course implies something about faith. While we no longer believe that the devil gets in you when you sneeze, most people no longer want to bring any kind of religious remark into casual conversation. As they say, “them’s fighting words” when you start to bring up matters of faith. It takes the whole political correctness business too far.

Whether you and I believe in the same God/god isn’t the issue. If I say “God bless you” to someone, I hope they would take it as a word of kindness, peace and grace. It recognizes the humanity we share. I liken it to saying “namaste”- the spirit in me recognizes the spirit in you. On the one hand we talk about matters of faith all the time because they are the cause of so much that happens in our world, but once you bring it down to a more personal level it loses the sense of “otherness” and becomes “my personal and private business, which is none of your business unless I’m telling you what to believe.”

So- why do we still say “bless you”? For those who say it, it’s habit, custom, tradition, local culture. It is benevolence and kindness at its simplicity. I wish we said it more. Imagine if we said it and meant it in more instances? A cough? A trip on the carpet? A stumble when the door slips? As a greeting? We could bring back some of the kindness and civility that is lacking in current American culture.

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There be dragons!

Since I my kids were on Spring Break, and I’m on my “medical sabbatical”, I wasn’t in charge of any “church stuff” this Easter. I had only to show up.

We visited my parents for the break, all of Holy Week. Well, we missed Palm Sunday because we were still on the road, driving from our base in the Midwest to the capital of the South.

We made many stops in the week, sightseeing, playing, picnicking. We saw an exhibit of mythical creatures, which included dragons. I love dragons, and I’ve long hoped that my kids would love dragons too. Maybe it’s because I grew up singing “Puff, the Magic Dragon”, or maybe it’s because I love faery tales and Medieval Times.  Whatever, I’ve been waiting for the day.

We’ve had Usborne’s touchy-feely dragon book for a couple of years, but it wasn’t until this week that the boys really showed interest in anything beyond the book. Hang on, we did see “How to Train Your Dragon” in the theater, so maybe I’ve been grooming the kids and it finally paid off.

At the end of exhibit (which the kids flew through), was the gift shop. And they happened to have some of the most beautiful soft toy dragons I have ever seen. EVER. Of course, I couldn’t resist buying each child a dragon. So they picked out a golden topaz dragon and a blue/green dragon. I had to resist picking out one for myself, but I would have loved the red one.

The dragons have become favorite and constant companions. They even came with us to worship on Maundy Thursday. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to be friends with the dragon before all the lights get turned out and candles extinguished. Thankfully, we were.

The next night we were looking through Barnes & Noble and you just wouldn’t believe what they had in the kids section. Dragons! Baby dragons! Just like the bigger dragons we got the day before. The discount card came out, and the little golden dragon and the little red dragon jumped in the bag to come home with us. We now have a dragon family!

And let me just say, these dragons are beautiful dragons. They have very kind shiny black eyes, lame’ scales on their wings and toes. They are soft, well shaped, and just so expressive. These are the kind of dragons you would just want to be friends with.

Incidentally, B&N also had a Puff. He wasn’t bad looking, but the other dragons were just irresistible.

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This week’s Friday Five from RevGalBlogPals has to do with birthdays,and there are, as promised, 5 questions about the topic to inspire.

How about you? What do you think of birthdays?

1. What are your feelings about celebrating birthdays, especially your own?

Birthdays were always a big deal growing up in my family, so I tend to look forward to them with childlike expectation that is often disappointed because my husband grew up in a house that didn’t make a big deal of birthdays. I have faced several monumental birthdays with discouragement though too. We have moved to a new state a few months before I turned 30 so what I would have enjoyed wasn’t possible (a big party with all my friends). Turning 35, really 36, was a big let down too, because it meant the passing of “young adulthood” and the idea that I was leaving behind a very special demographic that offered such great opportunity, especially in the church world.

Forty was hard also, because I had great dreams of making a big trip to Ireland with my best friend. It just wasn’t possible financially and my job in the church was rapidly slipping away (I lost it 10 days later).

All that aside, I usually do look forward to my birthday and try to enjoy it. I found last year that birthday greetings from my Facebook friends really meant a lot to me, especially those from folks who put apparent effort into the wish.

2. Do you have any family traditions about birthdays?

My parents always call, usually first thing in the morning, and sing to me. I love it. We also tend to let the birthday person choose the meal for the night, whether I cook or we go out. And partied for my kids are important. My younger son was really put out because we didn’t have a party this year. But my older son (who turned 9), really pushed to make sure we did.

A fun tradition I picked up from a childhood friend involves screaming when cutting the cake. She told me she learned it in Hong Kong. The birthday girl/boy makes the first cut in the cake and screams when the knife hits the bottom of the cake to wake up the birthday spirits so they will know it’s time to grant your wish. What kid doesn’t like to scream on their birthday?

3. Is it easy to remember friends’ and family members’ birthdays? If so, how do you do it?

For the most part I do remember birthdays of those closest to me. Those usually get a phone call or a gift or both. Definitely the spouse and kids get gifts.

4. What was one of your favorite birthdays? (or your unhappiest?)

I think my most memorable birthdays were in high school and involved kidnapping me in my pajamas and going to IHOP for breakfast.

5. Post anything else you want to share about birthdays, including favorite foods, songs, and/or pictures.

I love the new American Cancer Society ad campaign about making more birthdays. Though the tumor I’m being treated for is considered benign, my goal is still the same: to be healthy enough to enjoy many, many more birthdays. I’d like to make it to 90! (Please God?)

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Here’s my first time to play on Friday with the chicks at RevGalBlogPals. The assignment is to list five ways in which I’m anticipating or moving forward, towards resurrection, new life, hope, joy.

While Lent only lasts a few weeks, I feel as if I have been on this journey for several years.

1. Anticipating a new job. Later this year I’ll be released for work again and I know God is already preparing that me-shaped space for me. I don’t know what I’ll be doing, but I’ve already had a dream about it and I’m going to love it!

2. Healing body and spirit. I continue to pray for my miracle, to live tumor-free and reconciled. I feel the progress that I have made and celebrate little victories like exercising each day and allowing grace if I miss a day.

3. Making new friends. A clergyfriend yesterday told me that, as an adult, she has found it takes (at least) four years to make new friends after a move. I’ve been here just under four years and find that I’ve got lots of acquaintances, but not yet the dear bosom friend I long for who seeks me out to chat and catch up even when things are crazy.

4. I started a new blog to keep up my writing skills. Not only does it challenge me to keep thinking, it’s also creating connections with other bloggers.

5. I’ve revived my devotional practice with the help of Rachel Hackenberg’s Writing to God: 40 Days of Praying With My Pen. What was lost, or interrupted, by a round of steroids is slowly coming back to me as my connection with the presence of God is renewed, restored.

That’s it. Five for Friday. Check out the other gals by clicking the button

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