Sunday, December 23, 2012

CPE- Christmas Break- Midwest Blizzard-Advent

Thursday I had my first CPE interview in Minnesota and the weather forecast for Madison WI was 4-18 inches of snowfall on Thursday.  Wednesday I diligently watched the weather radar and after talking to Scott and a friend in MN, decided to head north on Wednesday night so as to avoid the potential blizzard conditions.  Lo and behold, MN also got slammed with tremendous winds and a mere 5-9 inches of snow.  The interview went well, and when I called Scott to let him know I was going to head home, he highly recommended I stay in MN another night.  His 4WD got stuck in our road as he was coming home, and the city is not making any plans or promises that the side roads would be plowed on Friday.  So I spent another night in MN- waiting.

Waiting occurs everyday in our lives.  I have spent the better part of Christmas break waiting anxiously for my grades.  When I got them, I did an all out ALLELUIA, PRAISE GOD! Because I actually truly did survive my first semester of seminary!

Waiting for CPE interview decision.  Will I get the place I really want? 

Advent.  It is still advent, even though my family members just left our house and even though we visited dad at Sylvan Crossings for our annual Christmas celebration, I still wait to celebrate Christmas and celebrate the birth of our Lord.  Jesus, fully divine, yet born a human. 

Four Candles by Johnathan Rundman

we celebrate a new year
a few weeks before the calendar
we shovel off the sidewalks
unlock all the doors
we're gonna light four candles

we get to hang blue paraments
keep those flower vases filled
put up the banner with the trumpets
we serve on the altar guild
we're gonna light four candles

the wait is nearly over

Friday, December 21, 2012

Life Continues. Can we now get back to Advent?

We now return you to your regularly scheduled life...Original Painting by R. Pitts

It is interesting how humanity tends to throw all of their energy and faith into a civilization long removed from this side of eternity or a weathered elder who remains in blessed (and infamous) memory, that they can neither touch nor see but scoff at a people who celebrate the Creator who breathed ruach into our very beings who we can not see but reverberates throughout all, walking and struggling with us.

Advent is one of my favorite times of the year; "Unexpected and Mysterious" repeatedly loops in the background of my days as "O Come O Come Emmanuel". Each morning even as the sky flutters closer in brilliant hues of blue, center stage and the earthen goddesses pull fragile shawls of crystal even closer, my vision still reveres in awe. Even as snowstorms race across the horizons, I await this with great joy each and every year.

This Advent season has dawned upon us and yet my spirit was irritated. Another Friday has come upon us, but thanks to all this fatality freak out that has poison a multitude of people  our senses have been jarred with all of this end of the world language.

It's Friday. We're still here. Enough already.

Instead of lamenting that this is the end of the world, perhaps we should greet the horizon that slowly curls into our existence with new understanding. "As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience." This should be a new beginning for all of us; for a small town in Newton, Connecticut the world did indeed end an entire week ago. We should strive and struggle as this year bows from the stage and one awaits in the wings, that as people of Faith, that as children of the Creator we love our neighbor and the stranger just as we love ourselves. Let this be a end to pain, suffering, negativity and a beginning to who God has called us to be.

Besides, the world couldn't end today. I'm preaching on Epiphany. Woot!

Lape Bondye, God's Peace. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

There Comes a Time in Every Preacher's Life

I had a kick ass sermon for this past Sunday.  I don't meat to gloat, but I was pretty proud of it, aaaand I had it done on Thursday.  Which, of course, meant that I had to throw all of it out and start over on Friday afternoon (if you're curious, here it is)

There comes a time, and unfortunately it happens rather often, when preachers have to throw out their sermons in light of tragedy.  So, that sermon I wrote will get tucked away in my file of sermons, but won't be preached.  And that's okay.  And instead I preached about the irony of Joy Sunday, and how there really were no words to explain what happened.  And we prayed.  We called on God to bring us the peace that only God promises to give, peace that passes all understanding.

And during the prayers of the people, we prayed for each victim.  And in obedience to the command of Christ to love our enemies, we prayed for Adam Lanza, who slaughtered innocent lives.  And we cried, knowing that the resentment we harbored wouldn't help the world heal, but prayer would.  Things like this should never happen...and yet they do.  So, we pray.  We beg for peace.  Kyrie Eleison.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

You Are Loved

There are no words that can make any sense about what happened yesterday.

I spent most of this past week furiously writing and finishing two papers, ironically for two of my ethics classes and Friday I was finally done. My Treehouse unfortunately suffered for it and with my own children at school, my husband and I went to run errands for the upcoming Christmas season.

We landed on Belmont and Clark, walking and came upon this young man holding this sign. "How long are you going to be out here, dude?", my husband asked him.
"Don't know, man" he smiled.

There are those who believe that the Gospel can only be preached safely inside a building of someone's choosing. This young man woke up and decided to do this, and THAT is what being a witness to the Gospel means. I have no idea if he is Christian or not but what he did was profoundly Christ-like.

Later, my husband would remark that perhaps if that young man who was trapped in so much darkness had seen this sign somewhere, maybe he wouldn't have reacted to life the way he did. No one knows.

The very hard part of our vocations as pastors and pastoral leaders is that we must not only pray for those affected, but also pray for those who have strayed so far away from the Light. So my prayers include all that have lost their lives.

As we returned back to Hyde Park, I heard the roar of planes overhead; leaning out of our car window slightly, I saw three fighter the missing man formation. 

Those children will be missing from their homes, their bedrooms and from their parents' arms. Yet, they are not missing from our hearts and minds and where there is that empty space, beyond the Veil...they are welcomed, eternally...and so are, will we.

The Good News is that all of us are Loved, no matter where we are in our faith journey or how we call on God or even how we struggle to understand His/Her existence.  

The Creator weeps, and the Creator welcomes us Home.

Lape Bondye, God's Peace.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A'boot' Happiness

At approximately 6:49pm, Monday, December 10, 2012, I completed my first semester with a simple mouse click on the "send" button, and with that last paper submitted, I was uber excited to explore Chicago a bit more.  Today the spirit of exploration guided two of my classmates and me to the Christkindlmarket (a Christmas market) in Daley Plaza.  We spent the morning roaming around different holiday stands, searching for potential presents, and tasting a variety of holiday treats.  'Twas a perfectly lovely experience, especially with a boot of hot drink in my hand.  That's right, a boot!  

Celebrating at the end of our first semester.
I had no idea, but using a boot-shaped drinking vessel is apparently a well-known tradition(?).  Still, for this girl--who lives under a rock--the boot mug was one of the highlights of the market!  Turns out that this tradition began (or so my research says) when a Persian general swore to his troops that if they were successful in battle, he would drink out of his boot to honor them.  Cleverly, the general had a glass-maker create a boot-like drinking glass so that when the general was required to fulfill his vow, he didn't have to taste his own toe-jam.  To this day, people still celebrate victory by drinking out of these boot-shaped glasses.  Awesome.  Although I had no clue of its significance when I was taking sips from my Christkindlmarket boot, I will gladly claim my victory drink retroactively: first semester of seminary is in the books--celebration!  

Having enjoyed the crisp afternoon laughing with friends, listening to Christmas music, and drinking out of a boot, I believe today was a fantastic way to meander my way into winter break.  Here's to Chicago, to fall semester, and to the expectation of many joys ahead. I raise my boot to you all!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A joke about John the Baptist

Panorama of Beer and Carols by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Okay, so I stole this joke, but it's funny.

"On Jordan's bank the Baptists cry, if I were Baptist so would I.
They drink no beer, they have no fun,
I'm glad I am a Lutheran!"

This past Friday House hosted an event we like to call Beer and Carols. There are basically 2 rules for the evening.
1. drink beer (or soda)
2. sing carols

I've been asked by a couple people about our theology behind this event and each time I answer "we don't have one...we just like to sing and drink." Which is entirely true. We do it because we enjoy it and because it's a good way to show the greater community that we are a little bit different than your mother's Lutheran church.

I think that sometimes we get so caught up as seminarians about theologizing everything we do in the church that we can forget what it is like to just have fun.  So, this Advent season do something crazy.  Drink beer and sing Christmas carols...don't over think it, and don't feel bad about singing Christmas songs before Christmas.  I promise you'll feel good about your decision.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

First Snowfall- Last Paper- Advent with Sparklers!

Back Yard at home in Madison
As the semester draws to a close, I am overcome with various emotions. Sadness as I left campus this morning with my husband- leaving behind new friends who I won't see for 2 months. I'm amazed at how our intense study groups built camaraderie and close relationships among such a diverse group of people. Of course I am thrilled that I actually completed my first semester of seminary. I am overjoyed with the sense of accomplishment, and also the fact that as I continue this journey to ordained ministry, I continue to feel God's hand guide me along the way.

 Our first snowfall seemed to hit just as we hit the Wisconsin border this morning, and I am happy to say that I am now home, relaxing in front of a fire catching up with Scott, my husband, and simply watching the flurries fall. How ironic to get the first snowfall the day I arrive home!

Photo by Tina H.
Friday night was a great night with my roommates and other middlers as we celebrated Stephanie's, one of my roommates, birthday and sang Christmas Carols. This was a first for me, singing Christmas carols, but it certainly put me into the advent mood, especially as we held sparklers while singing Silent Night!

Now for a week of Christmas baking, preparing the home for Christmas, and catching up on 'fun' reading!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Coffee Shop Catharsis

If you come to Denver this year, let me know and I'll take you here.
If you come to Denver after this year...go here, it's good. 
I spend an hour and a half every week intentionally free to meet with parishioners during what I call 'Office Hours' where people come by and hang out.  It's part pastoral care, part building and deepening my relationships with parishioners, and partly facilitating community between everyone who shows up.

Then there are some weeks, like this one, where no one shows up for a while.  Granted, there is an hour left of that time, but I've brought a book along to read for a book club I'm leading during Advent so I've got things to do during this time.  However, today is a weird day in the basement of Hooked on Colfax, I've spent the last half hour completely enthralled with a guy who is talking to another guy...he's been recounting the details of his attempted suicide.  Eavesdropping is probably not the best practice, obviously, but listening to his story of depression and living hell and the rebirth that happened from it is so interesting, and has given me a lot to think about.

Today in Text Study we talked about incarnation and the nature of Salvation Luke talks about in next week's gospel: salvation of all the fleshy beings.  We talked about how we have a God who dared to reveal God's self in flesh to us, and how sacred flesh is, then.  Now, sitting here listening to this story of rebirth and how this guy recognized the importance of his own self and own fleshy nature as a human is giving me chills.  And I think about my own flesh, the parts I'd like to kill off, and how they too are loved by a fleshy and incarnate God, and that's deeply comforting to me. the basement of a coffee shop (where I'm certain more pastoral care takes place by people who have no church or no use for church than in some church buildings).