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  • 5/25/2019 This weekend is the unofficial beginning of summer. I can proudly wear my white pumps and carry my straw purse, no one will claim that I am a fashion malefactor. This past week, I dug out my Chico’s white Traveler pants to wear to an outdoor event, but I was very aware of my shoe choice and I wore my black strappy sandals, lest my grandmother roll over in her grave. If you are not aware of the wearing of white rule, let me fill you in. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, it is perfectly acceptable and encouraged to wear white shoes, and carry a white purse. Woe to the gals who wear their whites during the fall and winter months, according to my mother; it is simply faux pas. This holiday weekend is not simply a marker for what to wear, or what not to wear. It is not only race weekend, the end of the school year, or the opening of the neighborhood swimming pools. It is a weekend that we honor those who have given their lives while serving in our Military. This weekend is also known as Decoration Day, the day many of us make the rounds to cemeteries. Each year, my in-laws dutifully drove from cemetery to cemetery delivering flowers and flags to family member who had died. It took them the whole day wandering Indiana delivering the goods, reminiscing the stories shared while giving honor to their lives.
    Twenty-five years ago, I was widowed with a baby and two children of school age. Each year, in May, my children and I make time to visit the cemetery and the gravestone of David, to sweep away the debris, clean the headstone and place new flowers in the urns. I have always loved cemeteries, especially in late May. Walking through the peace filled place where bodies lay, put to rest; it is truly sacred ground. A cemetery is filled with stories, genres of all kinds, monuments, unmarked graves, baby land, large crypts, benches, and the military section are part of the swath of ground that reminds us of our past as a community and as a family. 
  • 5/20/2019 My final exam for my first New Testament Class, in seminary, was to memorize Jesus’ longest sermon. Yes, Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 5 and part of six; look it up. It is long, it took Jesus the better part of three days to preach it. We get the cliff notes version of it. If there is any among you who haven’t read much of the Bible, this might be a good place to begin. Thankfully, it was on the first day of class that my professor, Rev. Dr. Kimberly Majeski, gave us the heads up. That very day, I downloaded the audio version of Matthew five and six. It is all I listened to while I was in the car, for three and a half months. It really was life altering.
    One of my favorite parts of my seminary experience was the day, I took my final exam in this class. Imagine thirty people, typing away, thinking the same thoughts, writing the same words that Jesus spoke on that mountainside overlooking the sea, to a crowd of misfits. It really was kind of a Pentecostal moment. The room was filled with electricity, maybe it was stress and perspiration, but I like to think of it as the Holy Spirit. It was good.
    “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. Matthew 5:13
  • 5/13/2019 Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, The Cost of Discipleship, a must read for any theologian, armchair or professional. This short manifesto explains how grace is free, yet it is not easy nor is it without cost. The difference between cheap grace and costly grace is important if you are interested in becoming a student, a disciple of Jesus. Everyone is invited; there are no qualifications for stepping your sandal, croc, high-heeled shoe, army boot, or sneakers behind the King of Kings. Your invitation has already arrived; in fact over 2000 years ago God invited and keeps on inviting.
    When we finally say “YES,” to the invitation, understand that no matter where you have come from, or where you are, or where you are going, God has always been with you and always will be with you, whether you invite God or not. God never stops being . . . with us. This is grace. However, the cost of this grace, which is free, will turn your heart into an engine of repentance, confession, and hunger to know more. This is good news. Really. Because once we realize that we are loved no matter what, we are compelled to do this hard work; it frees us to do so much good in the world. The offering of grace makes us better friends, co-workers, partners, community and humans.
  • 5/4/2019 Poetry has always been a part of my life. The favorite gift of my childhood, was a big blue book of selected poetry, a collection of poems for children. Part of my love came from the times spent with my father, who loved to read these to my brother, sister and I.  By the time I was ten I could recite, the Owl and the Pussycat, Little Orphan Annie and several of Ogden Nash’s quirky poems. “I eat my peas with honey, I’ve done it all my life. It makes my peas taste funny but it keeps them on my knife.” This poem is still recited at the dinner table, when the peas are served. Now, my eight-year-old granddaughter Josie, can recite this little ditty with great pride.
  • 4/27/2019 It was cold and foggy during the Easter Sunrise Service, this year. The crowd was a tad smaller than normal, at Forest Park, but the regulars showed up still hoping for resurrection. Much of the story remained the same. The beauty of the White River, the damp soil, the smoke of the bonfire, the murmur of sleep deprived disciples was part of the narrative we remembered. 
    We sang, “Angel Roll Away the Stone.” Someone decided that we should set up the communion table under a great tree, and then it started dripping profusely from the heavy laden dew. “Remember your baptism!” The guitar players grumbled amiably, and the rest of us laughed softly. Yes, this day is all about remembering our baptism, our death with Jesus that has no hold because of God’s great goodness and mercy.
  • 4/20/2019 My new name for Holy Week is ‘Struggle Bus Week’; it happens every week before Easter.  I have been preparing for this week since before Lent, before the New Year even. Actually, in my head I start planning before the last of the Easter Lilies die out. The same was true for this year, I planned, I worried, I created, I dreamed, and had great hope that THIS year Holy Week would be “better,” more meaningful, more sacred somehow.
    But just like last year, my expectations, of Holy Week worship and prayer events do not live up to my semi perfectionist nature.  This Holy Week was messy, unruly and exhausting. Big fires to put out, little sparks to contend with are all part of a pastor’s life; they just seem amplified when the schedule is rigorous. I’m not complaining, I’m just tired...
  • 4/15/2019 This is the week that is the crux of the story of the whole of Christianity. Holy Week begins with the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. People bearing palms are waving in adoration, cloaks are being spread at the feet of the donkey which carries the one who is going to triumph over the evil empire. The donkey, a symbol of peace, an animal that is humble yet strong carries the one whom we place all hope.
    Palm Sunday is a good feeling day. Everyone except for the religious leaders of Jesus’ time are in a good mood. Jerusalem is already a buzz with Passover celebrations. It is like a big family reunion. When Jesus arrives it is like icing on the cake, our Savior is ready to usher in a new way of life. 
    Only the ones who are behind the curtain know that there is an undercurrent of negativity. There are plenty of people in power who like things just the way they are.  Ultimately there is a plan to quell this Jesus into submission, to try him as a false prophet, and put him to death. 
  • 3/30/2019 We have had a series of beautiful days of blue sky and warmish temperatures. Because of this, I have a terrible case of Spring fever, I want the weather to continue to stay 70 degrees and sunny. And at night, a little light rain at to resurrect the trees and grass. Is that too much to ask? Many people have their favorite season, spring, summer and fall are by far the most identified as “favorite.” Hardly anyone chooses winter as the favored. Winter’s cold, wet and windy personality can be described as insufferable by the pessimist.
    William A. Quayle wrote in “Headed Into Spring” from The Sanctuary, 1921: “Frankly, the trouble with winter is, it is all backbone. It is fleshless, insensate, with neither a breast to be leaned on nor a heart to love and ache and, if need be, break, nor any kindly hand to fondle and caress like a sea-wave on a sunny shore half asleep.”
    I think winter gets a bum rap.
  • 3/23/2019 During the forty days of Lent, I spend my soul searching time in prayer, reading and practicing different spiritual practices. This year, I have been studying the spiritual practices of the Celts. Each week I have been investigating what it means to truly be aware of God in the mundane and in the ‘thin spaces.” Christine Valters Painter is an abbess in the Iona Community in Ireland. She is a spiritual director and author of several distinguished books on Celtic Spirituality. “The Souls Slow Ripening,” is a workbook of sorts filled with scripture, poetry, with stories of saints and teachings of twelve spiritual practices.
  • 3/16/2019 It is the second week of Lent and I am feeling it. So much bad news in the air. I woke on Friday to hear of a terrorist attack in New Zealand of all places, in the city of Christchurch. The news confused me because I kept hearing that it was an attack and murder of 49 people, and many others wounded in Christ’s Church.  The people who were targeted were Muslims during their prayer time. Again, I was confused, what were Muslims doing in a church. For about 15 minutes I had to do a reality check, did it matter if those who were killed were Muslim or Christian? No, not at all, terrorism is terrorism. The people in the mosque that was attacked were innocent. They were fathers, and children, women, friends all gathered to worship God, the Creator, Maker of Heaven and Earth. My soul is just crushed at the continued violence in the name of God. It just is not right on any level.
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