Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Funeral Directors

One of the interesting parts of being is pastor is that you do funerals and you then get to know funeral directors.

I like to ride out to the cemetery with the funeral director and over the years have had some wonderful conversations with these men and women.

Yesterday I did a funeral and our drive to the cemetery lasted about 30 minutes and I got to hear the story of Don's recent illness coming home from vacation which started with eating a bad hamburger in the Dominican Republic and ended with 9 days in the hospital in Atlanta because he was too weak to fly home. On our ride back to the funeral home we talked about church life and the changes in the funeral business over the last 20 years.

That is just an example of the blessing of getting to spend this time together. I remember one time as we drove to a cemetery the funeral director shared with me that her father had just died - a suicide. And I ended up doing pastoral care and later gave her and her mother a reiki treatment.

Last week I did a funeral in the morning before we went to the doctor to get the result of the biopsy on Chuck's tongue. I shared that with the funeral director who I had never met before. He told me about his wife's illness and I talked about Chuck. And imagine my surprise when that evening he called me at home to find out how the tests came out.

I write this just to say that God continues to give us all kinds of interesting ways to make connections with other people. And for a minister, these friendships that come along with funeral directors - who are involved in a very similar ministry to ours - are often a blessing.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Endings and Beginnings

This week we celebrate the end of the year and the decade! I always enjoy the newspaper articles and the web postings about the past year. What were the top movies? the Best books? the most important news stories? Who has died? All of that seems important to remember and to reflect.

At the same time I am getting ready to do a funeral tomorrow for a 90 year old man, Bill Van Scyoc, who was a charter member of my church. As i sat with his son and daughter in law on Saturday we remembered and reflected - not only on his life - but his generation. My parents are gone - but they were part of that generation that lived through the depression, world war 2, the possibilities and the Ozzie and Harriet family life of the 50's. These people were really the backbone of the church - faithful attenders, workers and givers.

And yesterday was the last worship service for Broad Street Christian Church in downtown Columbus. When I lived in Columbus in the 80's it was the big church with the very impressive building. many of the oldest members of my current church attended that church in the 50's as Dr. Floyd Faust was an important pastor. now the building is too large to maintain for the dwindling congregation. Very sad to see a congregation die.

We are living through a time of change and there are so many endings - not just people and churches - but the changes in the way we get and impart information, the changes in family life, the changes in neighborhoods. That is a post in and of itself.

But what I recognize is that the changes - and the deaths - are just a part of the story. There are births that comes out of it. And so, I hope that the people who are part of the church that has died will seek and find new churches and I hope some of them make their way to karl Road christian church.

What is so clear to me is that one or two people, can come into a church and really make a difference. they can bring a new sensibiility, a new kind of energy, and new perspecitve and help us to grow in different ways.

I look ahead to the new year with great expectation. There is a generation that is dying and it saddends me. At the same time there is a new generation that is coming. And God is in the midst of it all and bringing us new beginnings.

I look forward to see what is going to happen next!

Saturday, December 26, 2009


It is Saturday night and Chuck and I are home alone.
We are both exhausted but happy.
And Christmas is not yet over. We still have a trip to Toledo on Monday to share Christmas gifts with Lisa and family. And tomorrow is church and the day after a funeral.
But now - Saturday night - I am tired and happy.
Both Audrey and Kacey have written some about our holiday - but from my perspective, here is what makes me satisfied.

1. Christmas Eve worship was wonderful. It was a little different this year as our theme was the "Angel Chorus." We had 4 people plus me speak a little bit about why they are in the "Angel Chorus" - what it means to them that Jesus was born. And it was very personal and, I think, meaningful. At the end we had communion, offering and formed a circle. Then in the darkness, lit the candles. It took a long time for the light to go around the room which was different and - again - meaningful. I liked it. And I liked seeing people on that special night.

2. Christmas Eve we went to Marnie and Erik's and had some home made eggnog. I got to see Erik's Mom who would be there in the morning to be with that family as they opened Christmas present. It all made me feel good - this is a new family and they all seem happy.

3. Our Christmas morning was quiet and nice as we lounged in our PJ's and watched Mama Mia. I like the adult Christmas morning.

3. Chuck and I visited Erma in the hospital on Christmas Day which was a high for me. She is one of the saints of the church in the hospital with pneumonia and it just felt good to see her and be with her and Chuck and pray with and for her.

4. When everybody showed yesterday afternoon we were ready for them all. Our opening presents, dinner, opening stockings, and chocolate fondue for dessert took about 4 hours. Lots of noise and fun. I am so glad that we exchange gifts but we have a $20 limit per person so it does not break the bank but it shows people we care.

5. We did have a kids table and they ate their mac and cheese together and prayed together. It makes a Reverend Grandma's heart warm all over!

6. We have played games - like bananagrams, rummi cub, scene it and Bop it. Fun, fun, fun. but for Chuck and I it will always be Upwards that relaxes us. (we played tonight when it was just the two of us.

7. I think my favorite thing of all these days is just watching everyone in my family as they talk and laugh and spend time together. I am a blessed woman and I love a holiday like this when we get to be together.

The house is still a mess and I am very tired - staying up too late. But it is all worth it.

Monday, December 7, 2009


I saw the movie "Precious" last night and woke up this morning thinking about it. That is always the sign of a great movie.

What I find myself thinking about is:
1. The unfairness of life. Some people are born into situations that are so awful that it is almost unimaginable. I live in a priveleged world where most babies are wanted and cared for. And while I know we all have "issues" from our childhood, most of us have places where we hsve someone who cares for us. If it is not a mother, it is a father, or a grandparent. Precious was abused by her father, hated by her mother and ignored by her grandmother. It is sad, sad, sad and beyond my life experience to have such a childhood.

2. The resiliency of human life - at least some people. There are times when you hear about how hard life is for people and yet....they persevere and find their own way and are able to transcend terrible beginnings.

3. The power of love - in Precious life she found a caring teacher and a classroom of her peers who helped her. They helped her see her own intelligence and supported her as she made decisions in her life.

this movies had more than that in it - but those three things are what I find myself thinking about this morning.

It is so easy to live our lives and think everyone is like us and is having essentially the same experience as we are. Movie (and books) help us to get out of our narrow lives and see another life and see the forces that move it to growth.

I really recommend it.

Friday, December 4, 2009


I think that Luke 1: 26-38 - may be my favorite passage in the Bible. I am preaching on this on Sunday - when the Angel Gabriel comes to Mary and tells her that she is going to give birth.

My home is full of angels as well as depictions of Mary and Jesus. I believe that our story is one of giving birth - new life. It is an ongoing narrative as we become changed by God. It is also rich as we enter into the pain, lack of control, mystery and wonder of "giving birth" that comes when we allow it.

this is what I wrote about it this morning:

It is all here

An ancient story of an angel
who unsettles
a life

An invitation to birth
the one who comes
through spirit

A companion who shares
the grace and the burden
of holy favor

The word that proclaims
the impossible is now

The Handmaid
who receives
and bears
and serves
The one for whom the world is waiting.

May we find ourselves in this story.