Sunday, May 31, 2009

I have a lot on my mind....

...things like: I'm not really sure that it was so awful that Sonia Sotomayor said that she thought that sometimes a wise Latina might make a better decision than a white male. Everyone is having conniption fits about it, thinking that she is being biased, and this shows a particular mentality, you know, "reverse discrimination", or even "racism." (I'm putting "racism" in quotes, because it's my understanding that while anyone can be prejudiced, racism has to do with the overt and assumed power of the dominant class over minorities.)

I'm thinking also that for so long it was assumed that "white male" was THE norm, and that twelve white men could be considered "a jury of your peers", for, say, a woman, a black man in the South, or any minority. Please, also, let's not forget that there was a time when only white men could serve on juries. Perhaps, as Ms. Sotomayer has said, it was a poorly worded sentence.

I'm just going to go on record that I think that sometimes a wise Latina would actually make a fairer decision than a white male.


So Pentecost, the third major festival of the church year, every bit as important as Christmas and Easter, almost always takes place in the summer, and just doesn't get as much pizzazz. No midnight services with candles, no special carols, no "Pentecost dinners" with the whole family coming over. We did have a choir at 10:00 this year, and the Senior Pastor's children's message was a stroke of genius. He had a children's toy, it looked like some kind of a plastic toy air pump with a plastic rocket attached to it, and he had the kids feel the little burst of air when he squeezed the pump. Then he put the pump on the ground and launched the rocket in to the air. I didn't say this, but I thought, "maybe we should have done this on Ascension." Bad me. Bad me.

I also thought of the line from Annie Dillard's book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (and I don't have the exact citation) where she said that if we really understood what was going on at worship, what we were praying for, we'd all be wearing pith helmets.


I'm still thinking about whether I will post my Pentecost sermon. I'm thinking so many Pentecost-al thoughts lately, and they did not all get into the sermon. In fact, most of them didn't. I thought about the Service of the Word at my Synod Assembly on Saturday, presented by Bread of Life Lutheran Church, the only Deaf Congregation in the ELCA. Did you know that 90% of deaf people are unchurched? They long ago got the message that the church considered them defective, and that somehow their disability was the result of something they did wrong. I had no idea. But Pentecost is all about the Spirit widening our circle, telling us that the love of God is bigger and wider than all of our categories and all of our prejudices and all of the barriers we can erect.

Here's a story:

Once upon a time there was a funeral for a grandpa. At the visitation, grandma and children and grandchildren were there, including two granddaughters. The older was was eight years old. She had something she wanted to put into her grandfather's casket. It was a letter.

It was not a letter to him. It was a letter that she wanted her grandfather to deliver to someone else. She wanted her grandfather, when he got to heaven, to deliver this letter to her other grandmother, her mother's mother.

This grandmother had also died recently. This grandmother also had lived in Korea.

Her grandfather and grandmother had never met. They didn't speak the same language. They lived on the other side of the world from one another. But this 8 year old girl was sure that in heaven they would meet, and would know each other, and would be able to communicate.

Is this a vision? I think this is a vision, and not just of heaven, but of the Kingdom of God, the kind of world God is bringing to be. It's a vision of barriers of culture and language and time and place being broken down, and replaced with a vision of the wide wide love of God

"Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy...."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Books #16 and #17, (but who's counting)

In my self-imposed reading challenge this year, my latest were:

1. Plain Truth, by Jodi Picoult. This was our church book club's selection for May. It's about a young, unmarried Amish girl who is accused of smothering her new-born baby. I found the book intriguing at the beginning, a little slow in the middle, but absorbing by the end, with the plot twists and turns, and the trial. I thought that the author was very sympathetic and detailed in her depictions of Amish life and faith (that being said, I have very little first-hand experience with the Amish faith, myself). I'm looking forward to our discussion tonight.

2. Eat this Book, by Eugene Peterson. I now have one of his other titles, Tell It Slant, and want to read as well Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places. I was pulled in to the first chapter, but again got bogged down in the middle, and really enjoyed the last two chapters, on translations and new manuscript discoveries. Now, as I write that sentence, I make it sound like this is a scholarly book for scholars -- but nothing could be further from the truth. Peterson makes the discoveries of the Egyptian manuscriptions about a century ago into a really fascinating conversation about how God speaks to us in our ordinary language(s). Just in time for Pentecost.

Now, I'm reading a young adult novel called Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson. Anyone out there heard of it? I'll let you know when I'm done....

What are you reading? What do you recommend?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I ran into a fellow pastor from my denomination the other day. We were both in the hospital parking lot, bearing prayer shawls, and both of us confessed that we were preaching on Pentecost. I told him that I was considering the Romans passage this year: "for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words....", and he considered that he may never have preached on Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost.

Well, it is an odd story, isn't it? Instead of Jesus, reaching out with healing hands, reaching out with feeding hands, we have a mighty wind, and tongues of flame dancing on the apostles' heads. There's a sense of ecstasy in this passage that we might be uncomfortable with (after all, why else would some of the people accuse the apostles of being drunk?). There's an exuberance that doesn't fit well with our well-controlled church services.

Though I'm cautioned not to confuse the word "Pentecost" with the Pentecostal Revival at the beginning of the last century, I can't help remembering a little of what I learned about Azusa Street: the poor and working class men and women who gathered in the store-front -- the scandal their emotional outbursts caused among more socially-upscale believers -- the other scandal of black and white people gathered to worship together in the same place. (Sadly, this phenomenon would not last; in about 20 years black and white Pentecostals would be segregated into separate denominations.) There's something dangerous about the reading from Acts 2. There's something dangerous about the spirit.

(Aside: there's something dangerous about Jesus, too, but we forget....)

One of the dangers of preaching on Acts 2, of course, is that we might forget the source of the mighty wind and the tongues of flame and the exuberance: the crucified and resurrected Jesus. We can get caught up in the power, and forget that ultimately, the power displayed that day is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, the same power that helped Jesus as he set his face toward Jerusalem, and toward the cross. It's the exuberance of forgiveness, the mighty wind of love, the passionate flame of healing and justice.

(Aside: and that power continues to be resisted... with great force and might, and even by us.)

As a girl, I remember a recurring conversation between my father and one of his boyhood friends. "Which is the most important church festival?" they would ask one another. "Easter is the most important," my dad's friend would say, because Jesus rose from the dead. "But without Christmas, there wouldn't be an Easter to celebrate," my dad would reply, thinking he had won. And his friend would say, finally, trumping them both, "But without Pentecost, there wouldn't be a church."

There I am, back at Azusa Street, although it is not part of my tradition, not at all, where the Holy Spirit broke down barriers to gather people together who would not otherwise come together. The Holy Spirit gathers the church -- the Holy Spirit gathers the church in order to embody, in words and actions, the love, the forgiveness, and the justice that God in Christ has accomplished.

And in the midst of all this, still, the word that comes to mind, when I think of Pentecost and the power of the Spirit, is: "speak."

"For we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Holy Ground

What's a good children's message for Ascension Sunday? I've always had a hard time figuring out a down-to-earth, child-friendly way to talk about this story and its importance. I finally decided to consider the image of Jesus' feet, the last thing the apostles saw as he went up to heaven. I cut out construction paper footprints in various colors to give out to children, so they could remember Jesus' footprint here on earth, and our footprints as we walk his way.

After church my husband and I were on the road again -- a Memorial Day road trip of a different sort. We stopped for the evening in Mankato, just about half-way to our final destination. We walked through some prairie grasses, the vast prairies that some have called "oceans of grass." We stopped as well at the historical site called Traverse des Sioux, a Minnesota River crossing that also became the site of a famous (or should I say infamous) treaty signed by the Dakota.

On Monday morning we got up and drove and drove, until we finally reached our destination, which seemed like the middle of nowhere. We were at the Jeffers Petroglyphs, and while I say we were in the middle of nowhere, I am also fully aware that we were not many miles away from the farm where my mother grew up, and where I stayed many times as a child. Yet, here I was, while the wind blew fiercely, gazing at faint markings made in hard rocks from between 500 to 7,000 years ago. There were thunderbirds and turtles and buffalo and human hands, and other designs too soft to recognize, but that might come into sharper focus when the sun was setting.

The native elders call this a holy place; individuals come here for vision quests. I ask our guide whether the ancient markings were made by ancestors to the Dakota who live nearby now. "Well, they kind of think we're all related," she replied.

Later on, we traveled to the church where some of my husband's ancestors are buried. The cemetary right alongside St. Albion Church was dotted with flowers and with flags; that morning there had probably been a service in memory of those who had given their lives in time of war. I remembered how in the small communities where I served everyone came out for funerals, bearing casseroles; I remembered how the Easter sunrise (led by youth) was the largest service of the year. Everyone wanted to come out and support the youth of the congregation.

We are all related.

Today, I sat with a family in the hospital, as they prayed together and remembered a mother and grandmother. They remembered that she went to a jazz concert this winter and clapped so hard she bruised her hands. They remembered how she talked to people everywhere -- at the grocery store, on airplanes. She loved to be connected, to hear stories, to know people.

We are all related.

So please, take a construction paper footprint, and remember that you are walking on holy ground, the ground that our savior walked, as he broke bread and fed people, as he told stories and healed broken hearts, as he walked this earth and as he died and as he lived again.

He ascended into heaven, but his footprint is etched into our lives as petroglyphs etched in hard rock, fiercely, forever. Sometimes, though, the images show up more clearly at sundown.

We are all related.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Thank you

No matter how many years I do this, I never fail to be humbled
when I stop at the hospital, at the bedside of someone who is very ill.
It's clear that the person is in pain.
Sometimes they are barely conscious.
I'm not sure they know what I am doing.
But I pray.

I pray the Lord's prayer. And I pray for them, my own words,
for healing, strength, rest, comfort, wisdom.

And they say "thank you."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

too bad for me

i am typing this with my right hand. i'm really not supposed to use my left hand at all.
but i have not been good.
i typed my funeral sermon and my elbow ached.
don't feel too sorry for me. it's not such a bad break.
i need to be patient but i'm not
plus i am discovering how hard it is for me not to write
just notes doodles and stuff
it's like not eating potato chips.
i don't mean typing
there's something about feeling a pen in my hand

some things are hard like
washing my hair

some things are impossible though
i.e. opening jars
can't do it

i will still read blogs but probably not comment
for awhile

maybe i'll write some

Monday, May 18, 2009

Random Blessings

Today I went over to church to meet with a family regarding a funeral. I traveled side streets there and back, fighting the urge every once in awhile to stop the car to reach out and grab a bunch of lilacs.

It's that time of year.

Yesterday was Confirmation Sunday. Somehow, more than Easter, more than graduation, this marks the beginning of spring for me. Maybe it's the lilacs. Maybe it's the fresh young faces in their white robes. Part of me wishes we would switch Confirmation to fall, so it would be associated less with graduation; part of me loves Confirmation in the spring, with all the new life and hope, all at the same time.

I took a risk yesterday, preaching about half of my sermon from the floor, with just a few notes in my hand. I compared the gifts of the Holy Spirit with a "winter survival kit", with the tools we need as we are sent out on Christ's mission, sharing the wideness of God's love, expanding our own world at the same time. I got to speak directly to them, and I felt that they were listening, too.

I was incredibly tired after church, which was the day after younger Stepson's graduation in the Big Windy City to the north. That too was a blessed day, to be able to celebrate the accomplishments of a Young man of Value.

This morning we went to breakfast at the Birchwood Cafe, in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis. We haven't been there for awhile, but a beautiful spring morning, complete with lilacs, seemed like the right time to head down there. For me, it was also a trip down memory lane. Until I was in the 5th grade, my paternal grandparents lived in the Seward neighborhood, just two blocks down from where this cafe is now. We walked down to the house where they used to live, and I remembered standing at the bus stop across the street, while my grandma and I waited for the bus to take us downtown. I also remembered how all of us grandkids would walk one more block down to a convenience store where we would buy Milk Duds, Starbursts and other kinds of candy. I know the neighborhood has changed in the 30 years or so since I had spent time there, and I caught myself wondering who lives there now.

While at breakfast, my husband and I started planning our summer, just a little. While we will probably be taking Scout up to the North Shore sometime this summer, we both agreed that we wanted to carve out a little time to go see the Jeffers Petroglyphs over in Comfrey. I had won 4 vouchers to Minnesota historical sites at our church's annual Mardi Gras Breakfast, and we've been trying to figure out ever since how to use them.

After I got back from the church this afternoon, there was a big box waiting for me. It had finally arrived! All of the small items from the Revgals Big Event this April, the one I couldn't go to. There was also a coffee mug (signed by everyone) and a T-shirt.

Spring is pouring in the window. I'm thinking about a faith that's wide enough to include all of our lives and all of our activities, both ordinary and heroic, the tragic and the joyful. I'm thinking about a God whose arms are open to comfort the grieving, who gives strength for doing the dishes and cheering the home team and speaking up for children who are left behind. I'm thinking about a God who is big enough to be in small moments, a creative, redeeming, sustaining God.

What about you?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Denver

Here is a great video clip from my internship congregation in Denver. This congregation is also featured in the ELCA's ad Campaign: 'God's Work. Our Hands.'

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I broke my arm Wednesday late afternoon. I didn't think it was broken so I stuck with it through confirmation and the pizza party afterwards. We called the nurseline and she recommended going to ER which we didn't do. Instead I got up this morning and went to Urgent Care. I was the first patient, and it didn't take them long to tell me that I did, indeed break it.

It's the radial head, which is part of the elbow. I googled and found out that it's a common injury when you fall and try to break your fall by putting your flat hand out.

I don't have a cast, just a sling, but I'm supposed to check back in a week to see if I'm doing all right. If not, they might put a splint on.

This weekend I'm preaching, but trying to get ahead because we are going to step-son's graduation Saturday in Another Town. Typing is hard (longhand impossible), but one good thing is: I'm already about 2/3's done with the sermon (it's confirmation this weekend). So maybe I'll be ok tomorrow. Driving is no fun either, nor is eating. (I'm left-handed and of course I broke my left arm.)

The Doctor said 2 weeks if I keep my arm immobile like I'm supposed to.

Sometimes it hurts a lot, other times it doesn't bother me.

I don't have a real good story about how I broke it, so if anybody asks you tell them: hang-gliding. yeah. I broke it hang-gliding.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


our church council is meeting tonight, our regular monthly meeting. Lately we have been setting aside extra time for vision setting and brain storming every month.

we have a patio with a garden in the center of our building, an open space right in the middle of the building. tonight the patio door was open. A woman was working out there, her golden retriever helping her as she mulched and prepared the soil for spring flowers.

the wind was blowing wildly. sometime tonight we expect a storm, we don't know exactly when.

the wind was noisy, and I caught myself distracted more than once, looking over to the patio doors, wondering what was going on out there. at least one person wondered if we should close the doors, but others said no. we should leave them open.

I think they are righter than they know.

we should leave the doors open and let the outside in.

this evening we talked about all of the usual things that church councils talk about: leaking roofs, Sunday School Programs, stewardship drives, meeting times. but we also batted around words like "paradigm shift". we talked about getting people together in small groups, and asking them questions like, "where do you see God working in your life?" or "how do you express your faith in your daily life?"

(This is so much an improvement over a question I have heard and come to hate: "Does the church/or the pastor meet your needs?" It makes me tired just to hear this question. I would much rather meditate on the question of whether the church or its pastors are equipping us to be God's people in the world: speaking and acting love, justice and mercy.)

this morning I went to a breakfast meeting sponsored by the community organizing group Isaiah. Isaiah leaders don't have any problem talking about how God is working in their life. They are also pretty sure that God is working in the world. They believe that God is working in the world through them.

we should open the doors and let the outside in.

just outside the door a woman is preparing the soil.
just outside the door the wind is disturbing us
just outside the door the creation is groaning, waiting for redemption

The rain is coming.

I pray that it does not blow over.

Holy Spirit, come.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Still, A Lot to Be Thankful For

Just before the first service started this morning, a young couple walked in. Two years ago in April, I officiated at their wedding. Then they moved to New York, where they have living a fast-paced and full life. This morning I greeted them and they told me that they would give me some news at the end of the service. The news: they are expecting their first child. A boy. The only problem? I have a lot of yarn for a baby blanket, but it's pink. Oh well.

At the 10:00 service, the 6th graders were recognized as they end their "Sunday School" days and look forward to confirmation next year. Four of them read poems about themselves that they had composed. It was delightful.

The cherub choir sang a song, complete with impromptu dancing by the youngest member.

The intern's sermon touched on Mother's Day. She invited people to complete the statement, "My mother told me...." on a board out in the narthex after the service.

My parents and my mother-in-law came over for Mother's Day. My brother and his children came over as well. We had salads, sandwiches and pie.

Scout was very excited for about the first five minutes after everyone arrived. Then she calmed down and became the charming, smiling dog we recognize. She loves when we have people over to visit, but the first five minutes are always difficult.

There are many small blessings in my life. They fly in and out of my heart. often I don't remember them. -- I'll see a cardinal in the trees, or watch Scout meditate in tall grass, or hear a prayer.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mother's Day Reflections from a Non-mother

Yesterday (Thursday) at my regular physical examination I was lamenting my inability to lose weight, despite the fact that I have been foregoing potato chips and cookies, and adding significant minutes and speed to my daily walk. I'm not asking for a lot: one or two pounds, just to give me hope, would be nice.

My doctor told me that my troubles had their roots in evolution: long ago, women in my age group (that is, post-menopausal) were considered the least valuable to the group, and so got the least amount of resources alloted to them. Therefore, we learned to "conserve what we had", or so she said. That's why it's hard for me to lose weight.

Later I thought about what she said. "Women in my age group" means women past child-bearing age.

In other words, women who could no longer have children had lost their value.

I know some women who are not mothers by design. They never felt strongly about having children. (Some of them felt strongly about not having children.) But that's not who I am. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a mother. In fact, at certain ages, I was positively obsessed with having a lot of children. I read Cheaper by the Dozen and Who Gets the Drumstick and thought it would be wonderful to have a large family. I wrote stories about families with lots of children.

I know, I am a step-mother, and my two stepsons are wonderful people. I think very highly of them, and I have felt privileged to be in their lives, and for what I have received and (I hope) given to them. But, I don't think it's the same. At least, that's what I was told by a student intern who is also a mother. She looked me straight in the eye one day and told me I couldn't possibly understand what she was going through because, as she said, "I'm not a real mother."

This Sunday is Mother's Day, a day about which many people (including me) have complicated feelings. There are those whose relationship with their mother is painful, those who are grieving the loss of their mother, those who are grieving a relationship they will never have, but wanted, and those who are grieving because they message they hear on mother's day is, "a woman's value is primarily in her ability to have children."

Part of me believes that, too, and that is my struggle every Mother's Day. If I can't feed and raise and discipline and praise, if I can't bring life and watch over it, if I can't comb hair and say evening prayers and worry, who am I?

Thursday, May 7, 2009


It was one of those "little bit of everything" days today -- a day that we "generalist" pastors love, generally. It was filled with
  • a conversation with a parish member about our Adult Forum with the Superintendent of Schools and about education in our community in general
  • a meeting of local clergy for prayer, support and visioning about what our role in our community just might be
  • re-typing the worship notes for those who could not read my original handwriting....
  • a physical I rescheduled from Monday. (I left angrily after waiting an hour and a half). Today everything went well, except that I had to get two shots.
  • a hospital visit to an elderly woman.
  • a community organizing meeting where new dreams are just beginning to be born, and I am imagining what my role in it all might be.

In the midst of it all, I'm thinking about that strange command from John's Gospel, "abide." What does it mean to abide? It's such a simple thing to ask, but actually it is such a lot to ask of us, simply to abide, to stay, to hang in there, to not give up, to bear with one another, to keep going and going, to keep trusting God's vision and trusting God's love.

Abide. All we ask is that you stay: it's as simple as that. But not so simple, really. After all, about half of married couples don't end up "abiding" with one another.

To abide is to be faithful, to our call, to one another, to God. It's not to give up, on the simple, mundane things, on the difficult things we will never be good at (like human relationships, for example).

I had simple goals this evening: eat dinner, do the dishes, take out recycling, walk the dog. I saw the moon rise as I walked down the street, the last task of the evening. I saw in a picture window a mother holding her baby, and I waved to them.

Abide with me, fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens, Lord with me abide

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gratitude List

I saw this over at Mary Beth's a couple of days ago, and thought I should make one, too:

I am grateful for:

1. Hand-made things. My mother, freshly returned from the winter stay down south, gave me a hand-made lap quilt. She said, "I don't know whether you'll want this or not." She seemed to think it was a small thing, not important. But lately I've been thinking of all that goes into hand-made things, the time, the prayer, the materials, and thinking that they are often physical sermons, and reminders of the incarnation.

2. Co-conspirators seeking justice and radical grace and trust. I had lunch with two women yesterday who are just that: salad and soup never tasted better, as we envisioned what our community could look like with equal opportunity for education, health care and jobs, and with respect for one another's voices.

3. Family.

4. The smile of a good dog.

5. Forgiveness, whether expressed with a hand, a word, a kiss, or just by being there.

6. A good story.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Book #16: Chains

I picked this book up at a small independent bookseller on our winter trip to Red Wing. I knew I didn't have time to read it then, but I just couldn't resist. I actually went into the store three or four times before I just went ahead and bought the book, right before we left town. I started reading it right away, but other projects and responsibilities interfered.
I just finished it yesterday afternoon.

Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson, is the story of a young slave girl, Isabel, who lives at the time of the Revoluationary War. Her mother has died; she has promised to care for her five-year-old sister; her owner's will stated that she be freed, but the lawyer and her owner's nephew ignore the will and go ahead and sell her anyway. Her new owners are British loyalists.

But she is drawn to the Patriot's cause, and their words about liberty. She yearns for freedom, for herself and for her sister.

This wonderful book is both a meditation on freedom and an exciting adventure story. The historical detail is fascinating; the story is compelling. Most of all, Isabel is courageous, thoughtful, intelligent. This book is heartbreaking.

Read it.

I know it's not Harry Potter, and it's not Twilight, but it does share one trait in common with those books (and I give you fair warning): there will be a sequel.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Challenge Course: Team Building

In two weeks our 9th graders will be confirmed, publicly declaring that they want to be disciples of Jesus for the rest of their lives. Even though they have studied for three years, gone to camp three times, built relationships with their peers and other adults, I'm pretty sure they don't know what they are getting into.

But that's okay. Nobody asked them when they were baptized: are you sure you want to get into this? Are you sure you want to be disciples of Jesus? Their parents just carried them up to the baptismal font and had the pastor pour water over their heads, and made that dangerous promise.

And here they are. They are two weeks from being confirmed and they have just spent the weekend at a place called Camp Friendship. It is a camp especially for developmentally disabled youth and adults, so everything is handicap accessible. When other groups (like us) use the camp, all of the money goes toward scholarships for others to attend a camp week in the summer.

But that's not why we go to Camp Friendship. We go because of something called the "Challenge Course", an afternoon of guided team-building activities. The activities are somewhat physically challenging (as evidenced by my aches and pains today), but they are more challenging because the group has to complete them together. They are not successful because of individual prowess, but because everyone made it through the challenge.

So the group has to figure out how to get everyone over the wall, how to get everyone to swing on the rope from one side of a fake "ravine" to the other (and also, by the way, how to get everyone to fit into one round hoola-hoop on the other side). Other activities are difficult to explain, but require those with more agility, balance, and speed to pay attention to those who do not have those qualities. Also, we discover that other problem-solving qualities are important, too. And patience. Patience is very important.

I was so impressed with the patience, good humor, intelligence and good will exhibited by the youth this year. We talked a little after the "challenge course", about the lesson for our lives as Christians -- about the challenge of living a Christian life, about how we can't live it alone, about the necessity and difficulty of trusting God, and one another.

And yet, they don't know what they're getting into. How can they? I'm fifty-two, and I don't know what I am getting into, still, and I am still discovering new challenges.

So, in two weeks, they will all say yes. I'm confident that they will all mean it, too, even if some of them fall away at some time. I pray that even those who fall away will discover again God's faithfulness. And I pray that there will always be others willing to share the challenge and the joy of being a disciple of Jesus with them.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Preparing to Retreat Day

Today, I am getting ready to go on the 9th grade confirmation retreat again. We go up to a YMCA camp called "Camp Friendship" where the confirmands chose confirmation verses and work on faith statements and create banners. We also do the "challenge course" they have -- a team-building exercise that is not awfully strenuous but takes creativity. (I say it's not strenuous but two years ago I got a terrible back spasm afterwards. I whimped out last year and didn't participate. We'll see this year.)

This is what "getting ready" means:

1. I take Scout to Day Care. She doesn't go very often, but she loves to play with other dogs, and then is pretty tired for the rest of the weekend when I'm gone. It makes her easier to handle if my husband is busy.

I've noticed lately that Scout doesn't try to escape or even run around the back yard as much as she used to. Sometimes I notice her and she's just sitting out in the back yard, staring at something almost as if she is meditating. It's like she just likes the spring weather and is content to experience everything in the present moment. This morning, however, we practically ran into a duck on our front lawn. She was not calm right at that moment.

2. I put bags of things I will need together at church. The materials for the "stations of the resurrection" devotional tonight; the worship books for communion; bread and wine.

3. I pack my bags for the weekend, hoping not to forget the book light, or the travel alarm (I don't have a cell phone) or the little Bible or shampoo.

4. Sleeping bag and pillow? check.

5. I will try to find a book for myself, even though I will probably not get to it.

Now I'm on my way to the grocery store to get the pita bread and something for supper. Soon we will be on the road. Pray for our 9th graders, that they grow in faith and experience God's love for them, and God's purpose for their lives in community.