Friday, April 29, 2011

The Wedding

I am up early and the wedding is on and I am definitely enjoying "The Wedding" - of Kate and William.
I have a fair amount of experience with weddings and this is a really beautiful one!

Here is what I like

1. The pageantry and the attention to detail. It is wonderful watching the carriages, the horses, the majesty of all of it done so well. I love it.

2. The fashions - the hats, the yellow ensemble of the 85 year old queen, Pippa's gorgeous dress, and of courst Kate's beautiful wedding dress. Her arms and shoulders are covered as a token of respect which I find myself liking. Often I see too much flesh from my perspective - with brides and bridesmaids - I like the modesty!

3. The music - especially The boys choir - what beautiful voices.

4. Seeing the couple with Prince Harry and her father together at the altar. They seemed relaxed and ready. It was so familiar looking to me about how weddings are - this combination of tradition and ceremony and family feeling. And, of course, as a pastor - I get a front row seat to what is going on in the ceremony itself.

5. The service was actually similar to the wedding service that I do. I loved the reading of Romans 12 - I felt like I heard those familiar words in a new way.

6. The message from the Bishop (?) starting with a quote from Catherine of Sienna: "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire." And talking about marriage and how we have to "wean ourselves from self centeredness."
yes! Yes! Marriage is this mystery which can help us to grow emotionally, spiritually, if we are open to it.

7. The crowds cheering. The sense of joy in the happiness of others. I know that sounds corny but I love it. Their applause and excitement.

8. The bells that ring and ring and ring in celebration.

9. The photography and the TV coverage that actually shut up during the ceremony

10. The bride and the groom who seem mature, poised, happy, and like they will be partners in this very strange role that they will live together.

I have officiated at many weddings and for me - for the most part - they are real occasions of joy and people make a commitment to each other - to say YES to a new future together.

So, I am not jaded at all about this - but I see in this magnificent wedding the same expectation and shared community that I have experienced in so many other weddings that I have been part of.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter message

Thought I would post my message from Easter. It was short and sweet. Christ is risen indeed! This concluded a series on the Lord's prayer and the word of the day was GLORY!

Easter is a day of celebration as we come to the central and decisive act of Christianity.
It is a day of morning glory And I think you know all the elements of the story
• The women who come to the tomb expecting a dead body
• A stone that is rolled away
• An empty tomb and an angel who says - he is not here
• And then the encounters - many encounters - with the women, with Mary, with the disciples, with two travelers on their way to Emmaus, with Peter

This is about the inbreaking of God in the world
And make no mistake about this - the resurrection is a symbolic act, a spiritual act but most importantly and most challenging
This is a supernatural event.
We cannot explain it - can use that word mystery
But that is it - God has acted definitively, decisively
And we did not control it, make it happen.
Resurrection is completely the work of God.

This is really where the rubber hits the road in our faith life.
Do you believe it? Maybe so, maybe not
I wonder if you have experienced it - resurrection.
God’s activity in your life that raised you up - in ways that you cannot explain or take credit for

God steps in - to the tomb, the darkness, the hopeless place and raises us up.
Sometimes resurrection means that we are able to get out of bed after the loss of a loved one - and begin to see beauty in the world.

Sometimes resurrection is the gift of sobriety after years of addiction
Sometimes resurrection is the light of understanding that unites friends whose relationship had become fractured due to hurt feelings and misplaced loyalties

Sometimes resurrection is what happens in the heart of a neglected child who find love and acceptance and a sense of achievement in the attention of a teacher

Resurrection can happen in a marriage, a family, a church. God can move and bring new life in unexpected ways.

Do we make these things happen? Or is it God’s work within us and among us - Resurrection - the supernatural work of God in our lives. New life where there was death

If you have - the only response is doxology. We end the series on the Lord’s prayer with the last words that were added on
Doxology - 2 Greek words that mean
Doxa - praise - Legein - Speak

Thine is the kingdom - The kingdom is a way of life that leads to resurrection. The way of life is shown by Jesus
It is a way of life where we put our Lord on the throne of our hearts - Kingdom
And not ourselves - and so we try to live by kingdom values - his values
It is a way of community and service to others.
Like compassion, kindness, service, justice.

Thine is the power - and the power is the power of the holy spirit.
Our reading in John - 17 - a prayer that Jesus prays before he leaves this earth and there are two things that is saying
- I am leaving you
- I am sending the spirit
When Jesus came to the disciples - he breathed on them and said - receive the spirit. That spirit is available to us. This is the kingdom - the way of life
The power - the power of the spirit

We celebrate the resurrection because it embodies shows us the power of the spirit of God - Romans 8:11“If the spirit of him who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his spirit which dwells in you.”

Thine is the Glory
When Jesus appears to the disciples, what he does first is show them his scars and says “touch my wounds” This is the - evidence of the lowest point of his human life, the time in his life when he was asking whether and why God would forsake him?
His scars point to, not his triumph but his tragedy, not his victory but a time when he was vilified, a time of pain and struggle.
. He could have said, "Look, here I am--completely healed. Nothing they did to me has any lasting effect. I am perfect again
But he says, "Hey I am scarred and wounded, but these wounds will not keep the life of God from flowing through me - to you. Just as God has sent me into the world, so I send you, not to cover up your scars, not to deny your wounds, but to show people that the same power that raised me from the dead is alive in you."
There is a spirit of God which can enable us to do so much more than we can even imagine - that is available to us. The spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.
I want you just to think about that and the implications of what that means to you.
This is the glory of God - the glory that honors God

EASTER is not a promise that your business or your family or the church or the world will be "like it used to be" or even that your pulse will go on beating forever.
It is a promise that the God’s life giving power will never ever abandon you.
The power that raised Jesus from the dead can raise you from despair, and that same power is calling you by name and is still at work and doing a new thing in you and in the church and in the world!
Easter is the promise that nothing in your past, present or future has the ultimate power to define you.
You are defined by by the energy, the light of God that flows through you and that flows through all creation and making all things new.

Thine is the kingdom, the power, the glory or another way of saying this:
Christ is Risen - He is risen indeed!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How we Grieve

Yesterday I went to Stefanie's Champions luncheon which honored those who have supported people with cancer. It was very inspiring but also very sad.

Last year Trixie Hyser was honored as the champion of her daughter Lisa. Trixie devoted herself to Lisa's care as she battled stage 4 breast cancer. Lisa passed way in January and we miss her.

So, this was very bittersweet. At the same time, it felt like it was a way to honor Lisa. It was SO important to Lisa that her mom be recognized and so this year we came together for Lisa - even though it was very painful for everyone.

And it made me think about how we grieve and honor the person who has left us.

After my father died I made a scrapbook all about his life. It really was a labor of love - the only scrapbook I have ever done. To honor him.

After he died and my mother was living with ovarian cancer, I got very involved in the American Cancer Society in Bowling Green. I was on the board there for a time and our church really supported the Relay for Life. For me, it was in memory of my parents who died of cancer. I honored them.

I just put together a book that is a children's story called "Lucy and the Swans."
It is a story that Lisa Baluk told to Dawn Blevins and Dawn wrote it up. I used shutterfly (LOVE IT!) to make it into a book. To honor Lisa.

I guess these things are the light side of grief - the positive actions that help us to remember and to honor those we love and continue to mourn. And as we do them I always think - that somehow they know it and are pleased.


Monday, April 11, 2011

senior love

I got a call this morning about the death of one of the residents of Oak Leaf.
Oak leaf is a retirement community which is right beside the church.

I do a worship service there every Wednesday.

This man's girlfriend is a member of the church. She is 94 years old. She is mourning his passing.

She visited him last night and said, "Do you know who I am?"
He said, "You're my girlfriend."

And it is true. I remember visiting her a couple of years ago. At that time they had apartments where they could see each other's windows. And before they would go to bed they would blink their lights three times for I Love You.

And last night she said, "I haven't heard those words for a while"
And he said them to her. "I love you."

And this morning she saw him before breakfast and was able to be with him, holding his hand as he left this world.

It is a beautiful thing to see that love is ageless and that we can still fall in love in our 80's and 90's.
And that means, of course, that grief that goes with the loss of love continues.

I said to her today, "You've been through this before" This - being grief. And yes, with her husband and now with her boyfriend.

And she told me that she is happy that he is with the Lord. And she is going to keep herself busy. Being with other people. She knows that she needs.

She will live without him. And grieve her love.