Friday, January 13, 2017

NOTES: Baptism of our Lord, January 8th, 2017

Or maybe it's the Feast of the Epiphany, celebrated?

I feel like I am in an old timey cartoon, watching Jesus' life speed by like a train. We got glimpses this year of his childhood: there's goes the birth and an angry Herod, sending out the troops to massacre the Holy Innocents. Maybe we can wave to Anna and Old Simeon at the presentation? Woohoo, circumcision! Somewhere we passed the Magi and their foreshadowy gifts and the flight into Egypt...

And now the train has stopped. Catch your breath, we get a panoramic view of the Baptism of our Lord.

Head's up: Jesus is now an adult.

Our readings for this week are descriptive:
Isaiah tells us what God will do.
Psalm 29 describes the actions of a mighty God - "Lebanon skips like a calf."
Acts succinctly retells the story from a distance of some years, to a new audience - and importantly, what Peter tells them (and us!) what actions we should take with that information.
And Matthew's Gospel gives us the actual interchange between John the Baptizer and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, speaking God's words. (My co-editor at Building Faith, Matthew, has a handy explainer for this occurrence.)


Unlike viewing the world through the windows of a speeding train, reading God's story in Scripture isn't linear. We loop and double back more like a roller coaster, often ending up in the same physical space as when we started. Surely, it is the journey that makes the difference. This same reading from Acts is also read at Easter in all three lectionary years. It is the story, if you read just a few more lines, of a massive baptism by the Holy Spirit to a group of non-Jews. We read it at the same time we read the story of Jesus' baptism...at the start of a new year.

In another big loop, here we find Peter in Joppa, the same city where Jonah fled to avoid God calling him to preach to non-Israelites. Peter is being called into Cesearea, to share daily living with, and to preach to, non-Jews.

As Christians we are called to repeat the holy cycle year after year, sometimes, as in this reading from Acts, repeating the same scripture verses within a year. But as Sir Terry Pratchett notes, "Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving." And we can see this! We know that this January is not like any previous one. As we look with some trepidation to the big changes ahead of us a country, as communities, as congregations, we can also reflect upon the words of the Psalmist, written some 3,000 years ago, calling us to witness to God's terrifying acts, not simply to scare us, but to testify that this God is our God of strength and a blessing to us.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

DRAFT: The Feast of The Circumcision, January 1st, 2017

2016 has been an awful year. Sure, there were individual moments that shone like the magi's star. In our family, there were births of wonderful babies, Wylie got his driver's license, Beatrice survived her first year at college, and Joe made Captain. But by and large, most people - all the people? - I talk to are ready to shut the door FIRMLY on 2016.

And the Church is ready to move into 2017, as well. Christ is born! The Nativity has happened and we are in the great pivot, waiting for the magi to show their obedience to a baby king, waiting for the grown Jesus to signal he is God-with-us, waiting for the signs and symbols of Epiphany.

BUT WE ARE STILL IN THE NATIVITY. In a weird twist of God's calendar, we actually celebrate Christ-the-baby for a solid 12 days. And so, this 8th day of Christmas, the 8th day after Jesus' birth, we find ourselves in the Temple with Joseph and Mary and the squalling, squirmy Christ child. We find ourselves here because Joseph and Mary and the baby Jesus were 1st century Jews. In accordance with the custom of their faith, they had come to the Temple to name their baby and, as a son, for him to be circumcised. The bris, as Jews today call this ceremony, is the enactment of a covenant between man and God that stretches back to Abraham. In Genesis 17, God changes Abrams name to Abraham...but the sign of the covenant with which he does that is in circumcision (Genesis 17: 9-14). 21st century American Christians call this the Feast of his Holy Name, but it is more properly the Feast of the Circumcision, because while the name is important, the act of blood-letting is more important.

As a culture, we've moved beyond circumcision. When Wylie, who is almost 17, was born, parents who chose not to have their boy children circumcised at birth were on the fringe. There are now more parents who choose genital integrity over circumcision.

So why does it matter? Why not simply refer to this day as the naming of Jesus? His name is pretty important: Jesus, a derivative of Joshua, means "he saves." He is also to be called Emmanuel, "God with us." Those names appear to his parents in dreams from Gabriel. Hebrew scripture tells us that God cares deeply about names and naming. But we also know that God cares deeply about covenants.

*As we pivot into Epiphany, into the miracles of Jesus that portend who is really is, it's important to remember where we came from.
*As we swing into the New Year, with so many changes on the personal, family, and societal levels, it's important to remember where we came from. We cannot simply shut the door on 2016. We cannot have made it to 2017 without 2016 and we would be wise to remember the year as we move bravely into the new one.



Wednesday, May 07, 2014

So many things to do, so few photos - let's eat!

I even thought, as the cornstarch-slicked jewels of rhubarb and strawberry filled the dish, "I should take a photo."

Um, yeah.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp-like Sweet Casserole
(can't be a crisp, topping didn't, well, crisp)

Preheat oven to 350, grease baking dish

Dice 7 cups of rhubarb and strawberries - attempt to keep in the same general size family
Gently fold in:
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1/2 tsp large-grain salt


Let sit while you make the crispy-like topping.
Mix together:
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/3 cup oat bran
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon* oops, I forgot this
1/2 tsp large-grain salt
**I also added 1/2 cup sliced almonds and some more oatmeal
Add 8 Tbps cold butter, diced small
Cut in butter as though making pie crust - you're done when you can squeeze a handful and the mixture stays together

Pour fruit into baking dish.  Gently cover with topping.

Bake 40-60 minutes until fruit is bubbling (you might want to put a baking sheet under your casserole), topping is crispy, and rhubarb submits willingly to a skewer.



Devoured in less than 5 minutes, piping hot and all.
Is that because the boy was hungry or because it was that good?  Does it matter?


Monday, March 03, 2014

See where I am now?

I'm not sure if writing for somewhere else will make me more likely to write here?  Promises, promises, right?

But please come see my curatorial work at Building Faith, a place to converse, critique, and keep working on Christian formation and a mission of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why I love the internet

Our Father and Mother Who Art.

Our Father and Mother,
Who are present in the world and in history,
Hallowed be your name
in all languages and religions.
May the message of your reign come to each of you
indigenous peoples, the humble peoples,
in the language of gospel
and not of the domination systems.
Let your will be fulfilled,
your will of sharing and peace,
for your indigenous peoples,
for the humble peoples,
even for our own society.
Let us live each day in the sisterly solidarity
that produces abundance
and living joyfully together
that all may have bread.
Forgive our massacre of cultures,
and our colonizing evangelism.
And let us not fall into the temptation of fearing to be engaged,
of fearing to offend, of fearing to suffer,
But deliver us from the violence of consumerism,
and the violence of the forces of power and domination.
For Yours is the Future, Yours the Reign
that is Coming,
Yours the Glory and Goodness for ever and ever.
AMEN

(Translated from the Spanish & doxology added, by the Rev. Grant Mauricio Gallup, Casa Ave Maria, Managua, Nicaragua, 1994)

Friday, May 06, 2011

I'm just going to stumble through this

How you celebrate Mothers' Day is not just about how your mother parented (or not), but also about how you perceive and receive your mother's parenting. Too wordy? What I mean is, my mom is probably a great mom to lots of other people, and I actually really like that. But she was not a good mom for me. I love that there have been other young women in my mom's life that she has been able to competently mother. Be that as it may, I have a difficult relationship with her. I struggle with her. She forgets that she struggled with me. I repeat the same mistakes with my daughter, but I try to be a little more aware. I am certainly more vocal. We talk A LOT in our house. As a mother, you cannot be all things to your children. As a mother inadequately mothered, sometimes I think you have no way of knowing what's adequate and what's not.

There are memories that I absolutely treasure of my mom. She was fantastic in the middle of the night when I retched with coughing. She allowed me to follow my whims and she pushed me to keep swimming, even when I hardly had time for it. She drove me everywhere, or if not everywhere, she found someone to take me.

But my mother lacked boundaries. She lacked perception about other people. She asked too much of me.

I know how to drive now, I know how to drive my kids to do what they need to do and how to allow them do what they want to do. But knowing boundaries, self-awareness, where I end and they begin...those are places where I do not have an adequate template. Maybe none of us do.

So, as we approach this mom-tacular weekend, I want to do what I do every mothers' day. Make a quick call to my mom, preferably an email. And then ignore the whole thing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Field Guide to American Houses


My week is full of silly stuff like fixing the broken strut on the car and coloring my hair and taking kids to the doctor's.

Free of encumbrances, I would set off, brave explorer, for the wilds of Bay St Louis. I'd flip expertly through these pages and tag each Craftsman, Prairie, Double-Shotgun, Dog-Run, Queen Anne, Greek Revival house as I passed by.

Assuming no wild weather had set me from my path, I would take myself off for a cup of coffee, a toast to myself, a nod to no one in particular. "Merci, chere Bryn Mawr, de me permettre, enfin, de profiter de ma langue vernaculaire!"