Monday, September 26, 2005

What's in Your Car?

I pulled into a parking spot this morning and looked around my car. It was quite the hovel.
To be honest, for the most part, it still is.
While on a certain level I was embarassed by what surrounded me, I was more curious about what the contents of my car said or say about me.
When you walk past a car in a parking lot, do you ever catch a glimpse of what's in the car and have a little clue of what that person's life might be like?
Maybe I'm the only one.
Regardless, I thought I'd share a few of the things that you could see if you looked in my car windows....

1. A to-go bag from McDonald's (this was the most embarassing part)
2. My home communion kit
3. The car seat base
4. Bulletins from the past couple of Sundays.
5. The Baby Bjorn baby-carrier
6. An empty Starbucks cup
7. A bib
8. A vintage red Pyrex mixing bowl that I bought at a garage sale that hasn't quite made it in the house.
9. A road map
10. A package of gum

What would I see if I looked in your car?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Marked with the Cross

There are times in worship that have marked me. A child who answers perfectly during a children's sermon. The woman who always listens so intently when I preach. The first time someone called me "Pastor."
This morning Connor (not his real name) -- a three-year old who has Downs Syndrome -- marked me. He doesn't speak, but it's clear that he communicates relatively well with his parents. I don't know him that well -- in the just-over-a-year that I've been with these folks, this is a family that has flown under the radar for the most part. Only recently have I noticed them.
Worship was long this morning -- a number of "extra" things and what felt like a particularly long sermon by my Dear Colleague. I was tired by the time that Communion came around, and feeling a bit unsteady on my feet. When I bless the younguns who don't receive the bread and wine, I squat down so that I'm eye level with them instead of looking down on them. I usually say a relatively long blessing as I make the sign of the cross on their forehead -- "May the Lord bless you and keep you, watch over you and guide you all the days of your life." I know that I could just say "God loves you" and it would mean the same thing, but this has always sounded right to me.
When Connor's family came up to the rail, I gave his mom her portion and then squatted down to bless Connor.
This beautiful child, his hands folded so properly, looked into my eyes without hesitation or reservation. He looked solemnly at me until about part-way through my little spiel when his face broke into the biggest and most genuine smile I have seen in a really long time. I felt like he was saying, "And you, too, Pastor -- May the Lord bless you, too."
Thank you, dear child, for your blessing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Summers off

Well, all the folks who "took the summer off" were back in worship Sunday.
Perhaps not all, but many.
I wonder what they do with their Sunday mornings during the summer.
Tee times.
Swimming in their pools.
Sleeping in.
Perusing the really good farmers market that's only open Sunday mornings.
Leisurely paper reading with coffee and pastries.
Those sound like lovely things to do, when one just doesn't feel like going to church.
I try not to be bitter toward them when I don't feel like going and yet don't have a choice, really.
I mean, maybe they visit other congregations. Maybe.
But probably not.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Nothing: A rare (non-)event

I don't have a meeting tonight at church...
My husband doesn't have a meeting tonight at his church...
We don't have some sort of open house or obligation for the Baby Boy's day care...
There's no family in town...
The lawn has been mowed...
Neither one of us is preaching this weekend...
I've even paid the bills that had built up...

It's a little bit strange to think about an evening with nothing. Part of me wants to do something... to fill this seeming void with an outing or a task -- to be productive somehow. I don't want to waste this time.
What a lovely little quandry I have. What a gift.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

And I cried

I rarely "practice" sermons in the pulpit. Either I don't have time because I'm finishing the writing up until the last minute or I simply don't think about it. I was a competitive speaker in high school and preaching has never scared me from the perspective of actually talking in front of people.
But I practiced my sermon Saturday afternoon, in anticipation of the Saturday night service and the baptism and my bishop's presence and my parents and my in-laws. All things considered, it just seemed like a good idea.
And I cried -- alone in the sanctuary -- about half-way through my sermon I just lost it.
Overwhelmed with the emotion of the week's events ... exhausted from having family in town and a teething baby ... whatever the reason I thought, "Well, it's a good thing I practiced so I don't actually cry when there are people here."
I should have known better.
I got really, really choked up during worship.
And more than anything, after worship was over and we'd had cake and I was trying to sleep before doing it all over again this morning, I was mad, angry that I'd *almost* cried in the pulpit.
Somehow I thought that people would think less of me.
Maybe I thought less of myself that I couldn't "keep it together."
Clearly I'm still sorting out (without trying to dwell or obsess about it) how I feel about all of it.
I didn't get choked up this morning. I felt better. But I did wonder which sermon (service) was better.

Friday, September 02, 2005


Water, go away.
While I struggle to make sense, along with everyone else, of the tragedy that seems to be compounding along the Gulf, I am also preparing to preach at the baptism of my son.

Water, come down.
I give thanks for the power of baptism and the community of faith that will gather to welcome Baby Boy into the family of God.

Water, recede from your destruction.
The water of the hurricane and the flood remind me of the immense power that exists in the world that is completely out of our control.

Water, give us life.
So many people are surrounded with the very substance that could provide life for them, if only it were clean. If only they had access to something that wasn't contaminated.

Water, cleanse me.
Cleanse me from the anger that I feel toward perceived ineptness and idiocy. Cleanse from me the sense of hopelessness and frustration.

Water, power the world.
Provide again for us strength and life and freshness.

Water, wash over us.
With hope and love and care.