Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Today in Church History 1492

Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain sign an edict giving Jewish residents three months to leave the country. An estimated 150,000 Jews fled, the last reportedly leaving August 2, the traditional anniversary of the destruction of the first and second temples. The next day, August 3, Christopher Columbus sailed for America.

Tens of thousands of Jewish refugees died. Many were murdered by when rumours spread that Jews had swallowed gold and silver to take with them in order to open their stomachs to find the gold. They were charged exorbitant fees to take ships away from Spain and then thrown overboard in the middle of the ocean. Many starved in fields and were killed by wild animals.

Sultan Bajazet welcomed Jews to Turkey. "How can you call Ferdinand of Aragon a wise king," he was fond of asking, "the same Ferdinand who impoverished his own land and enriched ours?"

John Donne, Poet 1631

“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated... . God employs several translators. Some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice. But God's hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to another." As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness....No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sorry No "Take Backs"!

Rise of atheism: 100,000 Brits seek 'de-baptism'

"Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the Cross of Christ forever"

If these people really were Athiests, why would they need to have a paper saying they were "unbaptized"? Hmmm?? I've always suspected the most militant Athiests are not people who don't believe in God. They are people pissed off at God. And haven't we all been at one time or another?

Monday Afternoon Skating Video

Michelle Kwan's 1998 Exhibition Number - "Dante's Prayer" This is probably my all time favorite number of hers:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Kimmie Meissner tells us what she really thinks

Kimmie Meissner 2006 Laides Figure Skating World Champion writes a guestblog answering all the stupid questions she's been asked in her life. You probably have to be a skater to appreciate it, but she's really funny.

Kimmie Meissner: You're asking me ... what?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Five -Blogroll Spotlight

Today's Friday Five - My five favorite Blog sites and why.

Well I have to give a shout out to the RevGalBlogPals ...I do go there everyday - I like to see what other folks are doing --I use their blog roll. I love the idea of themes ...Monday meet and greet, I keep thinking I'm going to steal their Tuesday lectionary thoughts but I'm never really ready to look at the text on Tuesdays, though I know I should.

I love history, I love saints stories and commemorations and at Telling the Stories that Matters, there's a new story everyday, told very well. Some stories I've never heard before and even for the ones I do, there is usually something new.

I discovered Beauty Tips for Ministers before I started blogging. I just love it. I so agree with her insistence that Ministers need to be well groomed and careful about how they present themselves. I confess I know some people I'd like to send her way. Like the pastor who greeted us at a continuing ed event in dirty SWEATPANTS. Ick. And I like the idea that we can be pastors and still care about fashion and make up and hair. And of course ...SHOES!

Another favorite is Madeline's Egg - "Sex. Religion. Politics. All the stuff they don't want you to talk about in public." Father always has an interesting slant on the world.

And finally - this guy doesn't update very much but Larry Keene at Keen's Kwikies is HYSTERICALLY FUNNY. But has something to say as well.

I want to put in a plug for the dearly departed "Pocket Mardis". He gave it up because it got in the way of his real work as a Pastor, which I can respect, but that was a favorite of mine and may others I suspect.

Finally if it's on my blog roll and they have something new, I check it out so no slight if I didn't mention it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Annunciation of Our Lord

Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.

Pour your grace into our hearts Oh Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son, announced by an angel, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

A Prayer by Archbishop Oscar Romero

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I Make really good Chicken Salad

First of all, don't buy that crap in the cans.

Take about 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, put them in your slow cooker with about 1/2 cup of white wine, some Penzeys poultry mix, celery salt and curry powder. When it's cooked, cool it and it will shred nicely.


1 Red Onion, finely chopped
1/2 apple finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped

Shake some bsalmic vinegar on that, a little bit of sugar, pepper, celery salt, more curry powder. And about a tsp of honey mustard. Add about 1/4 cup of mayonnaise and mix it up. Add that and more mayo to your shredded chicken. Add as much mayo to moisten it and as you can stand.

It's very good.

Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, Martyr, 1980

Oscar Romero was an Archbishop in El Salvador during a time of growing unrest in the country because of social injustices and wide spread poverty and civil war. He witnessed many violations of civil rights by the government and military. Because there was an armed opposition party with communist ties, anyone who spoke out against the government was considered a communist sympathizer and he was denounced by the Catholic Church hierarchy. However Romero was only interested in speaking up for and improving the condition of the poor and oppressed in his country. He spoke out against all violence.

On the evening of March, 24, 1980, he was assassinated by gunshot while consecrating the elements during Holy Communion. He died within minutes. His death finally provoked international outcry for human rights reform in El Salvador. Only minutes earlier he had said in his sermon:

"Those who surrender to the service of the poor through love of Christ, will live like the grain of wheat that dies…The harvest comes because of the grain that dies…We know that every effort to improve society, above all when society is so full of injustice and sin, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us."
Days before, knowing his life was in danger, he had told a reporter,

"You can tell the people that if they succeed in killing me, that I forgive and bless those who do it. Hopefully, they will realize they are wasting their time. A bishop will die, but the church of God, which is the people, will never perish."
Eternal God of justice and love, you hold in your mind a vision of creation as you intend it to be: by the example of your servant Oscar Romero, give us a view of your work that we may commit the future to you,, confident that what we do in your Name will, in your good time, grow and flourish to your glory, through you Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Fairy Tale Ending Every Figure Skating Fan Wants

An Olympic Gold Medal for Michelle Kwan. She's considering the dream herself. Michelle Kwan dominated the figure skating scene from about 1995 until three years ago when an injury forced her to pull out of the 2006 Winter Olympics. She had the total package. She's known now for her grace and presentation skills but she started out at the jumper and a strong athlete. But while other jumpers came and went, she consistently held her own, winning NINE national championships and five world championships, a silver Olympic medal and a bronze Olympic medal.

And those last two medals are what still give her fans pain. She "should" have won a
n Olympic gold medal. In 1998 the devil Tara Lipinksi "stole" it from her. Or so it seemed the way some of Kwan's more rabid fans would talk. The viciousness of some the attacks against Lipinski actually turned me into a Lipinski defender in internet skating discussions.

My daughter was eight at the time and had just begun to skate and she was enchanted by Lipinski. When Lipinski won the gold medal, my daughter said "Everyone said she couldn't win the gold medal but she didn't believe them and she went out and skated her best and won" and you have to be thankful for a role model like that. But Kwan fans never forgave her. Lipinski went pro at 16 --never giving Kwan a chance to beat her again --another unforgivable sin. But she paid a heavy price for that triple-loop/triple loop that wowed the judges and had to have hip surgery at age 18.

I have my own theory was to why Lipinski won - which will only make sense to rabid fans who followed the scoring system. If anyone was overscored - it was Chen Lu of China whose presentation scores were too high. She skated before Lipinski. Having given such high scores to Chen Lu, the judges had to give higher presentation scores to Lipinski - and THAT's why Lipinski beat Kwan. People who are so gung-ho to bring back the 6.0 scoring system forget about it's strange quirks that often confused the casual fan.

Anyway I really really would love to see Kwan back at the Olympics. Figure Skating just hasn't been the same since she left. And everyone loves a fairy tale ending.

Update - I posted this link on my facebook with a comment about this being the fairy tale "nearly" every fan wants and was chided because there are fans that don't remember Michelle Kwan and there are fans who would be disappointed if their favorite were shut out. Yea yea yea. I guess Michelle Kwan still can spark a debate but I deleted the discussion because I dont' care enough to argue about it on facebook.

I still say everybody loves a fairy tale ending.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Another Monday Afternoon Skating Video

Scott Hamilton's 1994 "Hungarian Rhapsody" Hilarious!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Whitehouse "Victory Garden"

Michelle Obama is planning the first vegetable garden in the White house since Eleanor Roosevelt. I think this is a great idea, but I'm kind of surprised it's been so long since there has been one.

Thinking about Deborah

I'm doing the devotions for our Women of the ELCA Spring Cluster, which is meeting at our church today. I think I'm going to talk about Deborah.

When Sisera was told that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, Sisera called out all his chariots, nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the troops who were with him, from Harosheth-ha-goiim to the Wadi Kishon. Then Deborah said to Barak, 'Up! For this is the day on which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. The Lord is indeed going out before you.' So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand warriors following him. And the Lord threw Sisera and all his chariots and all his army into a panic* before Barak; Sisera got down from his chariot and fled away on foot, while Barak pursued the chariots and the army to Harosheth-ha-goiim. All the army of Sisera fell by the sword; no one was left.

Judges 4:12-16

This is my favorite part of the story of Deborah. Barak the general and Deborah are facing down 900 chariots of iron. This is back when Iron is a new thing. Barak's army doesn't have iron. This is why the Cananites had been able to oppress the Israelites for so long. You try to fight an army of 900 chariots of iron if you don't even have access to iron.

Barak had something better than iron. He had God's promise of victory. But that's not enough for Barak. He wants something else. He wants Deborah to lead his men into battle with him. He's a great military leader and he won't go into battle without bringing a woman with him.

Barak is afraid and God's promise is not enough to quell his fears. We are talking about 900 chariots of iron after all. Barak can't quite trust God's promise but he can see that Deborah clearly hears the word of God and knows he needs someone like that around. Sometimes that's the way it is. Sometimes things look so bleak you can't quite believe the good news yourself so cling to the proclamation of another believer.

And this is the moment where Barak needs Deborah. He is facing an army of nine hundred chariots of iron. And Deborah gives him this word of encouragement "Up! The Lord is indeed going before you" And so Barak goes forward.

Deborah is not a warrior. She is an encourager. She has the faith that Barak does not. Her faith is enough for him however. Sometimes we look around at the stresses and worries and injustice of this world and it's has overwhelming to us as when Barak first faced those 900 chariots of iron. But he was smart enough at least not to face them alone and he had the encouragement of Deborah to say to him "Up! This is the day God is going to save you – Go for it! God is with you. Trust me!"

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A limerick or two on St. Augustine's view of God

My daughter had to present St. Augustine's thoughts to her religion class at Augustana College in a "creative way" so she wrote this limerick. I think it's pretty clever:

God is completely perfect and good
But the world needs more, God understood.
God didn't have to create;
He/She was already great,
But for goodness' sake, God thought (s)he would.

So God saw there was nothing around
And out of nowhere, God made the ground.
God started with nothing
and ended with something:
fish, light, plants, us, potatoes, and sound.

Life is Risky

Natasha Richardson's shocking death after hitting her head and refusing medical attention because she felt fine really hit close to home. Twice I've hit my head on the ice after falling while skating and had concussions. The last time I felt fine after I hit my head and even got up and kept skating. Then on the way home I had a terrible headache, felt nauseous and goofy and had my daughter drive me to the emergency room. They ordered a CT scan and I bitched and moaned the whole time about how this kind of over caution driving the price of health care up.

Of course there are no guarantees in life. You can fill in your favorite cliche about the fragility of life. But the next time I hit my head on the ice - I'm going straight to the emergency room.

P.S. I went skating after I wrote this and I actually did fall and bump my head and it freaked me out - I was shaking. But I seem to be fine. And another little girl fell and bumped her head and everybody was a little more attentive than usual. That probably won't last long. In skating, if you aren't falling, you aren't trying.

More Thoughts about Joseph

Nobody thinks much about Joseph except at Christmastime. And then he's just kind of there.

We don't know much about Joseph. There aren't really even many apocryphal stories about him. It is assumed that he died sometime before Jesus' public ministry. As I thought about Joseph today I realized that added to his other human sufferings, Jesus also experienced losing a beloved parent as a young man.

I think of Joseph as a man who preferred to be in the background, taking care of his family without a lot of fanfare. It reminded me of my late husband, Loren. He just did what needed to be done. I took him for granted in the way we all take our loved ones for granted. But I really don't think he minded. Some people are like that. They just do what needs to be done, whether or not you appreciate them. They don't do it for thanks or appreciation. They do it because it needs to be done. God needed Joseph to be an earthly father to Jesus and so he was.

Today I thank God for the Josephs and Lorens in this world.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Theologian 386

Some people think going to seminary and learning biblical history and textual criticism can be a challenge to your faith, and it can.
You know what else can REALLY challenge your faith?

Take a little walk through church history! Yikes. For instance, how we decided on the doctrine of the Trinity. For a while there, it was a matter of whose monks beat up the other guy's monks. I think Arian got a bum rap. You want to read an interesting portrayal of the characters and times I highly recommend
When Jesus Became God: The Epic Fight over Christ's Divinity in the Last Days of Rome.

This is where Cyril comes in. You can find more detailed histories of him elsewhere. What I find interesting about Cyril was how he was in the middle of the Trinitarian debate. You may have read in your simple Christian history that the question of the Trinity was solved at the Council of Nicea in 324. No no no. The Arians went on as though nothing happened and even those who signed on started having second thoughts. Bishops were excommunicated and exiled depending on who was emperor and who could get his ear. Cyril, in trying to find a way to formulate the doctrine in a way all sides would find acceptable,  found himself exiled three times! Once by the Athanasius crowd and twice by the Arians. See that's what you get for trying to please everyone. You end up with everyone pissed off at you. So you might as well just take a stand and at least one side will be with you! That's what Cyril finally did and chose the winning side and voted for the Nicean formula at Council of Contstanople in 381.

Cryil did some other stuff that got him canonized and we still have his Catechetical Lectures as well as liturgical forms that were used for many years.

I think it is so important that we know our church history, even if it is a little disillusioning. We learn that things are not that different now. There never has been a "Golden Age" when the church was one and everyone agreed. When we aren’t persecuted from the outside, we are making trouble among ourselves. And yet the Holy Spiritcalls, gathers, enlightens an sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it united with Jesus Christ in the one true faith” (Martin Luther’s explanation to the Apostle’s Creed, Small Catechism)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I think taxing them is harsh enough

My Republican Senator Charles Grassley wants to go farther.

Patrick, Missionary to Ireland, 461

I sing as I arise today!

I call on my Creator's might;

The will of God to be my guide

The eye of God to be my sight,

The word of God to be my speech,

The hand of God to be my stay,

The shield of God to be my strength,

The path of God to be my way

Patrick of Ireland

More about Patrick Here

Patrick's Confessions

Monday, March 16, 2009

Not a Bad idea

Rep. Carolyn Maloney has come up with a solution to the AIG bonus conundrum: Tax them into oblivion.

Monday Afternoon Skating Video

Kristi Yamaguchi's 1992 Olympics - Gold Medal Long Program

I really liked her short program to the "Blue Danube" but I couldn't find that on Youtube.

Even the Sparrow

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself,where she may lay her young, at your altars,

O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God.
Happy are those who live in your house,
ever singing your praise.

Psalm 84:3-4

This psalm struck me today as I imagined the Psalmist admiring the beauty of the Temple and then noticing a sparrow's nest in one of the altars. I know quite a few matriarchs of the church who would freak out and see it as some sort of desecration if a sparrow dared make her nest in the church altar. But for the Psalmist it was just more testimony to the the God who created and sustains all living creatures. Even the sparrow knows where she and her young ones will be safe and cared for. Perhaps the sparrow knows more than we do for we often look for security in far less secure places.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

This Day in Christian History

March 15, 1517: Needing money to rebuild St. Peter's basilica, Pope Leo X announces a special sale of indulgences. A Dominican named Johann Tetzel led the way in promoting the sale in Germany and erroneously declared that indulgences would cover future sins (Leo's forgave all past sins). A monk named Martin Luther posted his 95 thesis disputing this teaching among other things. You all should know what happened after that.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lutheran Partners Article

I don't mean to brag (well actually I do) but they published my article in their
"Written on the Heart" series

Good Question

Lutheranchik asks "So What?"

Sermon's Done

I really struggled with this one -

Third Sunday In Lent