I’ve always had a hard time with the story of the Prodigal Son. Maybe it’s because I’m the oldest of two sons, and always identified with that older son—I was always the well-behaved one, good at doing my chores, and I should probably actually stop right there because my parents happen to be in the congregation today and I don’t want them to have to speak up and let you all know just how untruthful I’m being.Read More
Gail, Hazel, Ida, Mary, Elizabeth. Those are my maternal ancestors starting with my mother and going back as far as I can. When I was growing up, the stories of these women captured me. Elizabeth, Mary, Ida, Hazel, Gail. When I was a young girl, I would whisper their names to myself, making sure they stayed in my memory. My family moved often and I was an introvert who didn’t jump easily into new situations. Knowing these names, and hearing their stories, gave me a sense of security and connectedness. I knew where I belonged: Elizabeth, Mary, Ida, Hazel, Gail...
What are some of your names? To whom to you belong?Read More
Community is exhausting.
Because sometimes you are looking for a break and you try to hide in a house in Tyre but everybody still knows you are there, and then this Gentile woman, who you and your friends consider to be unclean, has the nerve to approach you asking you for healing and you get upstaged by the wisdom in her comeback line AND you have to re-think your whole community thing.Read More
Do you know the story of the waterbugs and dragonflies? It’s a children’s book, written to explain the concept of death. It is beautiful, and it is powerful, and I find it incredibly helpful for adults as well as children. I find it incredibly helpful, personally. It goes like this:
Once upon a time there was a community of waterbugs, that lived, well, under the water. They were happy and loving, and very much enjoyed being together. The only difficult thing about their lives was that above them was this mysterious dark that they couldn’t figure out. They couldn’t see beyond it and didn’t understand it (it was the water line, but they didn’t know that), but they did know that sometimes one of their waterbug friends or family would go up up up to the water line, pop past it, and the waterbugs would never see their friend or family member again. They didn’t know why this happened, but they did know it made them sad.Read More
Sir, give us this bread always.
That just gets to me. It’s not, Sir, give us this bread. It’s Sir, give us this bread, always. We humans. We are always so afraid of losing something, aren’t we? I suppose we come by it honestly – things do get lost, in our lifetimes. We lose things we love and places we love and people we love. It’s true. And so when we come across something we love, something that fills our bodies, minds, and spirits, something that makes our lives richer and more fulfilling, something that calms our anxieties and helps us to feel safe and loved, we want to hang on to it. Sir, give us this bread always.Read More
I spent a few days this week at my grandmother’s house in northern Wisconsin. My grandma is 98 years old, and for the last 40-some years she has lived in a little house in the woods along the Wisconsin River. Five miles from the nearby tiny town, 20 miles from a town with the grocery store. Her nearest neighbor is about a quarter mile away. She and my grandfather built this little home when my grandpa retired after 35 years as a career officer in the Army and they had 7 years together in this little spot before he died of cancer.Read More
Have you ever noticed that when you get together with your family and start telling stories about when you were growing up, or what happened years ago, the same events sound very different as different people tell the story? Depending on who's describing it, the guy who used to live across the street was a scrooge or a saint; or moving from one town to another was either a disaster, a wonderful escape, or a thing indifferent, hardly noticed: same event, different points of view.Read More
It's the week before we celebrate Christmas; why are we hearing this story now? I mean, often the lectionary cycle presents the life of Jesus in slightly rearranged ways, but his conception a week before his birth? Shouldn't this reading have come back in March? Heck, there's even a feast day for it: March 25—the Feast of the Annunciation. Well, yes, probably, but that would have interfered with the Sundays in Lent and the story arc leading to Christ’s death. To say the least, the Church’s reasoning sometimes seems very arcane.Read More
Do you think John the Baptizer was mentally ill? Do you think maybe Jesus’ family said on occasion, “Cousin John is a bit odd, bless him!” We now know that one in four people will experience a mental health problem. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia can affect anyone at any time, and it’s likely that many people in our congregation have been affected. So why not John?
I’m going to follow that excellent pageant with a quote—from a somewhat unexpected source, but that’s par for today, right? It’s from a book you may have read to some young person in your life, or that you may remember from your own childhood. The book is by Dr. Seuss, and the title is
One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.Read More