Friday, January 28, 2011

Fave Verses Friday Five

Fave Verses Friday Five
At RGBP Songbird shared…
Twenty years ago, I was on a Pastoral Search Committee, and one of the questions we asked the ten candidates we interviewed in the first round was to tell us their three favorite passages of scripture. I loved hearing the variety of verses quoted and even learned some that I didn't know, such as the last line of one of this week's lectionary passages:
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8) 
For today's Friday Five, list your five favorite passages/verses from the Bible and tell us something about why you love them.
I haven’t read anyone else’s posts yet, but I have a feeling my favorite passages are going to seem boring and typical—but they’re mine!

1.        In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). The Logos is an aspect of Christ that I can comprehend with my mind and spirit. As a “word person,” this passage touches me where I live. It very strongly relates to #2 here.
2.        In the beginning when God created… (Genesis 1:1) Creator God! Birthing God! Made in God’s image, we too are creative beings! “And God said…” evokes the Word—and how powerful are words to create reality (use them carefully).
3.        Jesus began to weep (John 11:35). Having served as a hospital chaplain and now in ministry with strong pastoral care, I’ve learned there are times when all you can do is weep alongside the person who is mourning. Jesus’ presence with Lazarus’ siblings here, knowing the fullness of what they’re going through and being willing to enter their sorrow, reveals incredible compassion.
4.        Make a joyful noise to YHWH, all the earth. Worship YHWH with gladness; come into God’s presence with singing (Psalm 100:1-2). I love hearing kids’ voices in worship. I love singing at the top of my lungs with joy, even when it’s off key, flat or whatever else one can do to sing badly. I often evoke this passage to remind people, “It doesn’t say make beautiful music; it says make a joyful noise!” If you are giving thanks to God, who cares what others think of the sound J.
5.       Hear, O Israel: YHWH is our God, YHWH alone. You shall love YHWH your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might (Deuteronomy 6:4). I sing the Shema once in a while, honoring my Jewish heritage (which I didn’t know about until my early 20s) and Christianity’s foundation therein. Jesus’ rendering of this text is also one of my favorites, reminding us that loving our neighbors as ourselves is another form of loving God.

I     If you're reading this and not blogging on RGBP, I'd love for you to post your own favorites for us to see in the comments! Blessings to all...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fearsome Beasts

Fearsome Beasts
(at the wild animal sanctuary)
So tame. I am the foreign creature
amidst these powerful paws and muscular jaws.
I am intruder to be watched, judged dangerous
yet safe behind high fences.
You, with your black eyes,
despise my gaze - a voyeur
one of many smelling too agitated.
You stay calm in your cage.
My breath quickens and my ancient animal self recalls you intimately.
Fearsome. Beautiful.
I am prey -
yet I pray for you.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Five: BOOKS!


(Over at RGBP, Jan offers…) I hope some of you received books for Christmas presents; I did and have been reading ever since. Then I discovered a new author from those recommendations that pop up on Instead of buying those books, I've been checking them out at the library, which will not help Amazon's future recommendations for me at all.

So tell us what you're reading, what you would and would not recommend--five books or authors! 
PERFECT TIMING! Our youth are having a book sale fundraiser this Sunday, and one of the bonuses of being in staff is that we get first perusal of the offerings! Last night (after the senior highs finished sorting), I spent quite a while over their efforts…

First book: I just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer (a tome I purchased at last year’s youth book sale—I wanted to get it back to the racks for a second go-round). A friend has been goading me to read some BK (her favorite author) for years, but I just couldn’t find the desire. Finally, on a deadline, I began…and couldn’t put it down. I hated it (at the beginning, mostly), because of the multiple, theme-driven, extensive heterosexual sex scenes. But VERY quickly I realized this was the whole meaning of "prodigal" that summer... BK's imagery and depth of sexual understanding of the natural world blew me away and couldn't keep me from continuing to read. And I fell in love with (most of) the characters.
Book two: In the “for sale” stacks were about 5 copies of Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. How can people give that book away?!! Last year I purchased several copies to send to friends—it is one of my favorite books of all time, and I can read it over and over. Hurston has a way of drawing images that stay with you, and her understanding of and ability to capture the complications of life and spirituality illuminate some of my own experiences of the world.
Number three: I admit to being a fiction and poetry lover through and through. But I recently finished a newer biography of Emily Dickinson called Lives Like Loaded Guns (a reference to one of her poems). Again, this was a volume I couldn’t stop reading. It was as full of plot as any novel, and Lyndall Gordon explored new twists and interpretations of the people in Dickinson’s life (proposing that long-supposed friends really were not, and seeming enemies may have been true devotees). My only disappointment was that the book came to an end.
Fourth choice: I’m going off-lectionary in 2 weeks to preach another book that recently came to my attention: Sandy Sasso’s Cain and Abel: Finding the Fruits of Peace. Yes, it’s a children’s book that beautifully retells the violent and disturbing story from the Hebrew Bible—and every time I read it, tears flow. Joani Keller Rothenberg’s illustrations deserve as much meditation as the words Sasso has written. The ultimate message is that we all have anger, but how we use it makes the difference between engaging war or creating peace: it’s up to each of us. If you’ve ever given up on the Cain & Abel story, I highly recommend this book for its redemption.
And finally five: I posted a couple days ago on books for meditation… and I offer him again: Kilian McDonnell writes the most delightful, playful, faithful, accessible human poetry. He has 3 books (he started his poetry career in his 70s!), and I recommend each and every one of them: Yahweh’s Other Shoe; God Drops and Loses Things; and Swift, Lord, You Are Not.

….now, I’m off to see what other RevGals have recommended. You never know what may show up at this weekend’s book sale!!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's a Wonderful Life

There has been much hard news this past month.

Family illness, debts, a dear one's suicide, and two kitties with different diseases making it seem they'd perish before the new year: all of this made me thankful when 2011 finally rang in. I've been feeling sorry for myself in some ways (not in others--I still live a luxurious life compared to most on this planet).
The Cone of Shame (on both kitties!)

Driving home from work tonight in the dark, I took a different route: through Old Town. Yesterday it snowed several inches, so the ground and the trees (and the cars) are all draped in winter's finery. It's 3ยบ F, and people are still shopping, going to the theaters and eating out.

Most of all, I see the lights. Leftover Christmas lights. They wrap each tree on the median with star-shine--even though Epiphany has passed! They light my way through all my mediocre cares to a place I call home: warm, food-filled, companions all around, with two living, breathing cats and a partner who loves me. I noticed again how beautiful is this town that I get to live in. Work in. Play in. Serve in.
picture this.... but with snow

I begin the 7th year of my time here in Fort Collins, CO. Until 2010, I never really knew what it might look like truly to call a place "home" (having moved, in almost as many years, from NJ to PA to CA to CT to CO). But this is it. This is what "home" looks like. At least for now. And I couldn't be more grateful.

Sometimes I get caught up in the challenges before me, and I forget for a moment that I have the most amazing life. I don't know what 2011 will bring for me, but I know I get to be here, among loving, beautiful people in a town that has been voted one of the best places to live. So, thanks be to the Divine for all that is, and all that will be.

Happy New Year.