Sunday, April 25, 2010


I have been doing a lot of reading lately - and want to recommend some books and share some of my guilty pleasures

First - I am doing a sermon series on this book by Bruce Wilkinson - You Were Born for This. It is really simple reading and profound truths about how God uses us to bring love into this world. if we are open. Highly recommend.

second for school we are reading (slowly) Radical Amazement: Contemplative Lessons from Black Holes, Supernovas, And Other Wonders of the Universe by Judy Cannata. I cannot overstate what a wonderful book this is - to contemplate the mystery and majesty and wonder of creation and our God.

I am reading (listening to) a wonderful profound book on Tape - Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder. This is about Dao Gracias a former medical student from Burundi and his amazing journey that led him through the genocide of Burundi and Rwanda to New York City where he lived in the streets and somehow through the kindness of strangers found his way to Columbis University,met Paul Farmer and a life of healing. It is a powerful book and I am almost finished listening to it.

In our book group we read The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee - a book of fiction set in 1942 about Will Truesdale, an Englishman newly arrived in Hong Kong, falls headlong into a passionate relationship with Trudy Liang, a beautiful Eurasian socialite. But their love affair is soon threatened by the invasion of the Japanese, with terrible consequences for both of them, and for members of their fragile community who will betray each other in the darkest days of the war.

Ten years later, Claire Pendleton comes to Hong Kong and is hired by the wealthy Chen family as their daughter’s piano teacher. A provincial English newlywed, Claire is seduced by the colony’s heady social life. She soon begins an affair, only to discover that her lover’s enigmatic demeanor hides a devastating past. It is a real page turner and I could not put it down and we had lots to discuss with it.

Last night I went to the library and picked up Mika Brezhinski's book All Things at Once and read it in one night. It is her story of her life as a career woman and a mother. Obviously hard to put down.

And in addition I read in 2 days Dominick Dunne's last book Too Much Money which was a Roman a Clef. It is certainly a guilty pleasure about the rich and famous and I will miss reading more of his books.

Finally I read the most recent Harry Boesch book Nine Dragons which I couldn't put down once I got going on it. It is very personal as he goes to Hong Kong to rescue his daughter. Love Harry.

So, that's a few of my favorite books. I have a bio about Warren Beatty to dip in and out of right now and always books for school.

Love to read - happy to be at it in a big way lately.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


This has been a week of grace in many ways

One of the areas of grace has been in being able to go to the park to walk. We have a metro park near our home - Sharon Woods and I have been there several times this week. Today I walked in the woods while Chuck sat and read by the lake. Wednesday afternoon when I was getting ready to do two funerals in a row I just sat by the lake drinking hazelnut coffee and allowed it to give peace to my soul. There is something life giving about taking the time just to be in the presence of beauty that is healing.

I experienced grace Saturday morning at church. That morning I talked to Chuck about missing some people from Bowling Green. And I had to go to church because we were hosting a regional meeting of the Ohio Women's Commission and there was Marcia from Bowling Green. It was so good to see her and to spend time just catching up.

I experienced grace Saturday night when Chuck and I went with Nikki to see "Why Did I Get married 2" - a Tyler Perry movie. I had no idea what it would be like - but it was really good - thought provoking and real about marriage and funny too. The whole day was a blessing.

I experienced grace this morning at church as I always do. I am doing a pastor
s class with Jimi and Christina who are 2 kids in foster care. They want to be baptized and so I am essentially teaching them some Bible stories and talking to them about faith every Sunday morning until May 23rd when they will be baptzied. They are such sweet kids and I feel blessed to get to be with them.

I am getting ready to go back to church for our gospel praise service where I will be preaching and after that we are going to play games in honor of my birthday. And Kacey and Marnie will be there - as well as friend. Now there's grace too.

I am a blessed woman.

Monday, April 12, 2010


There's a catchy title for a blog!

I was called in to be with a person who was dying yesterday. I stood with friends and family around her bedside and prayed.
It is very possible that as I prayed she died.
Afterward, people were feeling for a pulse and looking for breathing and there was none. So, she passed right then and there.

I have been with two other women at that moment when they passed from death to life. One was a parishioner in Bowling Green and I was talking to one of her friends and we looked back and realized that she had died. It was very anticlimactic.

The other was my mother. I stood with my brothers at her bedside and we had been told that the end was near. As we stood there, it was very clear because she started to bleed from her mouth. It wss meaningful to me as I thought about the blood that comes with birth and now that which comes with death. My brother didn't see it that way.

I remember hearing one woman tell me a story about sitting with her 30 + year old daughter as she died and this woman said that she saw the soul leave her body. It is all very mysterious.

we had another death in the church yesterday and in this case the man died in a nursing home while his wife was surrounded by family at a baby shower. While she regrets not being with him, she was certainly supported by love. And so many times, we know about the family members who keep up a vigil and the person passes on after they leave the room. Some people think, that they are waiting for us to leave so they can leave.

All I know is that it is certainly holy and mysterious and I feel blessed to have a life where I get to be with people during these sacred times and help them to experience God's presence and love.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Who Shall I Send?

I just come home from Bible study and we spent some time with Isaiah 6: 1-8 which ends with this

8Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I; send me!”

and our conversation was good - about and thought provoking.

Who will go for me - and it made me realize how hard it is to go to some of the places that God wants us to go - and these are some of the places where we mention:

to a relative who is alcoholic

to a young woman with cancer

to a young man who is recovering painfully from back surgery

to a man lying alone in a nursing home

to a different city on a snowy day.

One of the questions I asked is this: are there some things that God wants us to do that no one else can do? That won't happen if we don't respond to them?

There was also contained in the other scripture the understanding that the Holy spirit will empower us when we go where God is sending us.

I know from experience that is true - but I also know that when I go to these places of pain and risk - I often don't want to go and feel that I have nothing to offer.
Usually God shows up in a way that I actually know it. Or afterward, I trust it.

And after tonight - I guess that is Biblical. But it is still hard.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Post Easter

I have a few minutes as I am waiting to guide one of my directees in spiritual direction. This is quite an adventure as I am learning how to listen to the spirit as I sit with another person. It is humbling, that is for sure.

Easter was pretty wonderful in that the church was packed as much as it has ever been. There were some issues that keep coming up - like how to do worship with people from 1 to almost 100 and have it be meaningful for everyone. But that is the challenge of being church.

Meanwhile I am looking ahead to three things

1. We are starting a new series on Sunday mornings: "Ignited by God to Deliver Miracles." It is based on a book by Bruce Wilkinson Your Were Born for This and I am really excited about the ideas in it and the whole concept. He presents 7 keys to delivering miracles - which sounds hokey to write about - but they really are right on the money. Every week we will hand out a magnet with a Bible verse and a mention of that week's keys. I like it!

2. I am preparing for the "Memory Weekend" with the girls. It is May 15th and we are going to go to every place we lived in Ohio - Lebanon, Columbus, Zanesville and BG and remember together. It should be interesting and I have lots of surprises for them. I know this will be a weekend we will never forget!!

3. And I am getting ready for the Sabbatical - it begins June 14th. I am planning what I am doing - keeping with the "memory theme" I will write more aobut it later.
Also, preparing to leave my responsibilities here at Karl Road for 11 weeks. I met with Bertie Dell today - she is the minister who will be in charge in my absence. It is really challenging to think about all of it.

So, I gotta go - but this is what is happening right now.
Pretty cool - all of it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Sermon

I got a lot of good comments about this sermon - so I thought I would post it.
Happy Easter - Hope you spend some time in the "Resurrection Garden"

11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb.
As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.
13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.
15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
16Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).
17Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

In a presentation on leadership, the Itay Talgam a renowned Israeli conductor showed a series of video clips demonstrating different conductors and their styles and their effectiveness.. His last and best example was of Leonard Bernstein
The video showed him welcoming an orchestra of high school student from around the world who had been granted one week under his direction to perform Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring The first day of practice, the makeshift orchestra was discordant.
But Bernstein did not wield a baton as a symbol of his authority.
Instead, he stopped the music and spoke of the feelings Stravinsky sought to evoke, of the smell of spring grass, of waking animals.
Talgram said this: “He empowers people by telling them their world is larger than they think.”
Cut to a week later, and the high school orchestra sat attentively before Bernstein, who looked on with obvious satisfaction as an assembly of young strangers achieved musical harmony

And maybe that is a good story to start an Easter message with.
Easter is about seeing more – not just that our world is larger than we think, but that God is bigger than we can imagine Easter is God’s final way to show us God’s empowering presence.
Join me this morning as we go with Mary to the resurrection garden -And I am going to give you several definitions of what that is:
- One definition of the resurrection garden - a place where we are surprised
Let us remember how Mary was when she went into the garden
First she was grief stricken
Second was confused
Third expecting death. She came to the tomb and expected to find a dead body - because she had watched him die. And while Jesus had certainly stretched boundaries – healings, miracles, exorcisms – dead is dead
Because how often is that our condition.
All Lent we have been preparing for the passion as we face the times of alienation, dislocation, waiting, and suffering that are part of life. And today we face death.
We are constantly experiencing loss, and confusion and walk around saying things like “it is what it is” - or “whatever”
With the underlying question - “is this all there is?”
And never imagining that it could be different

Until we come to the resurrection garden
Definition - it is the place where you go expecting death and finding life
Definition - It is a place of encounter with the living Christ
Definition - It is a place that disorients our assumption about who is powerful in the world and reorients our perspective on what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ

This is what Mary found and we find when we go to the resurrection garden

1. all things are possible - death will not have the last word, our God has power that is more than we can see on this earth - and it extends to the next.
When we experience that - we live in a place of radical amazement. God has shown us what God can do. We are amazed by that. The material will not have the last word - there is more at work and God’s love and power extends beyond life on earth
Someone said: “Awareness of the divine begins with wonder”

The life of Jesus on earth began with the angel saying - all things are possible with God
And then here we see - finally with God overcoming death.
And this is more than daffodils blooming in the spring, Easter lilies and blaring trumpets

The message here is that death will not have the last word – that life will go on after the life that we can see here on earth
As Jesus told the disciples that he would prepare a place for them – that same promise is given to us.
And because of Easter – we believe it. Death is swallowed up in victory

All things are possible from birth- to death – to beyond.
The resurrection garden is one more place where we see the inbreaking of God into our world. There is more here than we know
This is a power that comes when we least expect it and transforms our lives.

- 2. Jesus wants to be in relationship with us - calling us by name - and it is more than God is creative and working in the world. The resurrection garden is a place of experience. And that experience we see in all the post resurrection stories are different with different people. -
- It is that God is using us - calling us - penetrating our lives with God’s word and God’s way and God’s spirit
Story - about the atheist who said - “Give me one good reason why you believe that Jesus rose again? - and the Christian friend answered - “Because I spoke to him today.”
Most favorite hymn of many people - which we will sing today - in the garden - and he walks with me and he talks with me

- 3. we have something to share – “I have seen the Lord “- cannot be kept to ourselves - that is our response
- We see the Lord at work in our lives - and I have heard stories
- Like when you were at the end of your rope and the Lord spoke your name and you knew he was there and found hope to keep going
- Or when you were near death and God touched you and you were given more years to live– (Shirley lincicome’s story)
- Or you felt I was worthless and had no purpose and God touched you and gave you a place where I could serve others and make a difference in the world
- We have a church full of people who have stories to share of times that God intervened in your life and changed your condition and your direction.
- The resurrection garden is the place where we experienced the inbreaking of God into our lives and into our world

Now there are reasons we don’t share that story much – because it is always open to alternative interpretations
- like this resurrection story – maybe Jesus never really died, maybe Mary made it up
- with our stories – we can say – well, you were lucky, or
- Or the doctors healed you, or you were stronger than you knew

We also are reticent because we may be afraid that sharing the story sounds like we are bragging or something – I Saw the Lord

But the resurrection garden is a place of grace and transformation
And that something to share is not about what we did - but about what God did

And let me be clear about the grace - it is not that I kept the faith, it is not that I lived in expectation, it is not that I did anything
Grace! It is for people who fall away, get confused, have very low expectations.
Grace! God shows up when you least expect to see God
Life in the places where you expect death

And it is transformation - how can we not be changed - changed in that moment of course - as despair turns to joy
But changed in a way that happens because we start to expect more - knowing that that resurrection garden comes anytime and anywhere
(A recent Pew Center Report states that 50% of mainline Christians have experienced moments of spiritual transcendence. There are mystics in every pew; but we seldom share our stories).
Easter! calls us to claim and to share the moments of new life and holy presence. Resurrection challenges us to listen for Jesus calling our name in the garden.
Easter faith - not you believe it because the Bible tells you so (or because your Mother told you!)- but you believe it because you have been to the resurrection garden yourself
End with two questions
1. When have you been in the resurrection garden ? when have you had an experience where you knew that God was at work in your life Suggestions - it isn’t usually a garden
It can be a kitchen when you meet a defiant adolescent or a distant spouse and through God’s supernatural power are able to experience reconciliation
It may be a hospital room - where you face a grim future and through God’s supernatural power find more hope and more time to live
It may be in a classroom - where you think that there is nothing there for you - and through God’s supernatural power you experience a spark of light and love between students and teacher
And it may be in your heart - a heart that has been hardened by hurt and closed off by pain - and through God’s supernatural power we experience the stirring of love and care from another and for another. And something is changing within you.
It is grace and it is change and it is the resurrection garden.
It is the place where you encounter the mystery of God’s presence and the love of our Lord Jesus
And as Mary recognized the Lord in the garden, you two see God’s fingerprints on the events of your life and find comfort and trust and excitement. And then Like Mary - you share that news
I have seen the Lord – and that is the final question – who have you shared your story with? Who have you told your experiences to? I have seen the Lord.
I can say it to you - I see the Lord in your faces, I see the Lord in the life of this church, I see the lord at work in my own life - bringing healing and reconciliation and peace.
I see the Lord. I talk about it in some form or fashion every week.
But now after Easter –After you have been to the Resurrection Garden - it is your turn!