I want Pentecost still to be red…

29 05 2007

Lost and Found has a song about the church, called “Opener”. It talks about churches that have become more like YMCA’s, that preach the news, sing what they want to sing, carry on no history, and how we need to stop the fighting, whether it’s about guitars and amps, or incense and robes… just tell about Jesus. It’s a good song, and one of my favorite lines is “I want palms on Palm Sunday, I want Pentecost still to be red…”

That line ran through my head all last week and weekend as I was working on my Pentecost sermon, and the service. I love Pentecost. It’s my favorite day in the church year (and I said this in my sermon) because I am in need of help, and it’s the day we celebrate God sending help: the Holy Spirit. I love it. And at Arbor, it was red. It always is, because Sue does a fantastic job of changing the banners and paraments (those different colored/symboled cloths hanging on altars, pulpits, lecterns, etc…). I hadn’t been at church since Sue changed the paraments, so walking in at 7:30 am Sunday morning was a treat, to see the red all over. I love it. Jim and I also brought in red balloons, which Jim used during his Children’s Corner.

When I read the Acts 2 passage, about the Holy Spirit coming into the place where Jesus’ disciples and others were gathered, I had arranged for people to stand and read part of the text in different languages–at the same time–while I read in English. It was amazing. I wish I could have just listened, but those who did thought it was great. Awkward, at first. But fantastic. We had people reading Chinese, French, Spanish and Swedish.

I love Pentecost. And I need it. I need the Holy Spirit’s help this week.. it’s a busy week, and I’m emotionally and physically exhausted. So in order to make it through, I need the Spirit of Pentecost to guide me through. I need reminding that the church throughout the ages has been inspired, guided, corrected, and encouraged by the Holy Spirit. So hopefully this week I will be too.

Worship, small church-style

23 05 2007

Most Sundays at church have some element of surprise, especially in a small church. But this past Sunday was a little more unusual.

It was both Confirmation Sunday (four students) and a baptism Sunday (three siblings). During the baptisms, there was an outburst from the back row. The man is one of three men who visit Arbor together: two of them live in a group home for developmentally disabled adults, the third is their caretaker. When they first came to our church, it took some adjusting: one of them makes frequent noises ranging from grunts to popping noises. One of them—maybe even the same one, I’m not sure—rocks back and forth as well.

The outburst is louder than the other noises. It’s happened before, but during the Children’s Time. Apparently when he gets really excited or happy, his noises get louder and louder, and the caretaker has to discern when it’s time to leave. Only the man making noises doesn’t want to leave. He’s happy, he’s excited to be there… so while the caretaker stands up to leave, the man screams, “SIT DOWN! SIT DOWN!” But everyone graciously pretended to focus on the baptism while not turning around to see what was going on in back.

Eventually they left, but not until two church members told the caretaker to please return, that he shouldn’t worry about the outbursts.

The confirmands were each supposed to give a one-two minute speech from the pulpit. One of them froze and was crying, before her time to speak. I felt awful for her, knowing first-hand the paralyzing fear that can accompany public speaking. Her father spoke in her place, explaining that he was to blame for her fear of public speaking, because he had told her to picture everyone naked, and now she was traumatized. Everyone laughed. He then went on to read her speech, and he added his own observations about confirmation, how it was a hard course of study, how much the students learned, etc. It was beautiful.

We worshiped. We sang. We baptized. I preached. We confirmed. We cried a bit. We laughed a lot. We met God.

Not so unusual after all.

The agnostic fish car

16 05 2007

I wish I’d had my camera this morning. If I had, you’d have a photo, with the license plate smudged out, of course. Jim and I saw the most amount of fish emblems I’ve ever seen on a car. You know those emblems that some Christians put on their cars? One of my friends said she put one on her car to remind herself that even her driving habits needed to be a witness to others. I respect that. But, over the years, this emblem has evoked a response from those who seem to think that Christians are anti-science, Darwin, etc… Ok, some Christians are. But not all. That’s another topic…my 2 cents on it is that God created us. I believe in the God of Genesis. I believe in the God of science. And my belief in science does not invalidate my belief in God. Yes, even the God who is taking forever to give us a child. But I digress…

The driver of this agnostic fish car seemed to be in favor of everything except Christianity. S/he had fish emblems with the following words: Darwin, science, ‘n Chips, dog, cat, Reality Bites (with the big fish eating a smaller one), Freud, lutefisk, Buddha, lawyer, Ix Nay… that’s all I remember.

I wanted to get out of the car at a red light, and ask the driver, “Just what, exactly, do you think Christianity is? And if you think Christians are so closed minded that they cannot like fish, dogs, fried food, science, reality, Freud, lutefisk, lawyers, Darwin, even a healthy respect for Buddha… if you really believe that about Christians, then your closed mind needs to be opened to recognizing healthy Christianity in your world and city. Because despite the mistakes we’ve made and will continue to make, we’re also good people. Open your eyes and mind, and try us. We might surprise you. As you might us.

Wednesday night Catch-up

9 05 2007

Yes, it’s been awhile. Last week I was swamped with work, lots of meetings, a little stress, and too much extra adoption work. Re-submitting our immigration paperwork was not a fun experience, to say the least.

Then we found out, through my Yahoo adoption group, that we have to do an extra 10 hours of adoption training. Mandatory. Long story short, the Hague Treaty on International Adoption is being ratified in 2008… January, I believe. There are some new requirements that adoption agencies have to implement. Including an extra 10 hours of training. Mind you, those who have already submitted (and resubmitted) their I-600a’s by the time the treaty is ratified (immigration stuff) don’t have to do this extra training… according to the Hague. But, because our agency wants to be a “leader” in this process, they are making this mandatory for those of us who are impatiently waiting for referrals… Meanwhile, this sent us worrying–perhaps validly so, I still don’t have an answer–that our agency knows we likely won’t travel until January 2008. If that’s the case… I can’t even think about that. Of course that’s what I said last year, when I thought it out of the realm of possibility that we wouldn’t travel until summer 2007. Ha.

Needless to say, this is quite frustrating. This training includes extra money; three online courses and tests; a book to order, read, and take a test on; and sending for a certificate proving that we did this. Joy. More hoops.

Then, it’s the “M” Day this weekend. I was supposed to preach this weekend, and when I made the schedule, I knew it would be Mother’s Day. But I thought I could do it, because we don’t make a big deal of the holiday in worship. However, with all this extra adoption stuff taking place last week, that upset me more than I thought it would… and it being Mother’s Day this Sunday… Need I say more?

On a good and fun note, I was in Santa Barbara Thursday night through Sunday morning. I had the Board of Benevolence meeting last weekend, and it was in that gorgeous city. I’ve been to Santa Barbara several times, but never overnight. Beautiful. I love it. But I think I’d have a hard time living there with all that opulence. I also think it’d be a tough place to pastor. But I digress.

It was good to be away, to sit by the pool, to take a walk on the beach with other board members, to listen to waves… and to be on this Board. I am always impressed, when I leave these meetings, at how much the Covenant does as a denomination. Yes, there’s lots of room for improvement. No, we aren’t perfect. But we do a lot, and a lot in the areas of compassion, mercy and justice.

As good as it was to be away, it’s good to be home, though I’m playing catch-up all week with endless amounts of work and personal stuff. Such is life.

My hostas are growing fairly well. I’ve planted some herbs in pots, and have to get more. We splurged and bought cheap patio furniture–a glass table, which I’ve wanted for years.. it’s more sturdy than the resin table we’ve been using for so long. So now Jim calls the deck my “summer office”.

And summer’s not that far away.

So now this mad city cat has blogged more “about this and ’bout that.” And she’s signing off….

in the meantime…

9 05 2007

I know, I know.. I haven’t posted in awhile. I’ll post more later, but in the meantime, will post what my friend and colleague Steve wrote (in an email to me):

There once was a mad city cat
who blogged about this and ’bout that
Until one week in Spring
She had a Santa Barbara thing
And her posting she hid under her hat.

Saint Steve of Brat City…

Thank you Steve.. I’ll be back later. Hopefully today, even.