Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Five

What are you:
1. Wearing....
...myself out from worrying about a thing I dont really want to blog about, but believe me when I tell you it's on my mind most of the time. And I'm wondering if blogging a sentence like that is even worth the ink it's printed on.

2. Pondering...
...if it's true what my wonderful preaching prof said, that the best sermons are about going home, because everyone wants that. Because I've been watching Lost and Battlestar Gallactica and Maria, which are all about that in their own way.

3. Reading...
...Rob Bell and liking him a lot more than I want to. It's hard to turn off my megachurch=enemy reflex.

4. Dreaming...
...without ceasing, mostly anxious ones. But last night I dreamed that More Cows poked up my fireplace with a big stick, and two little boys, a big pile of dust and a dead squirrel fell down. See? she said, THAT's why it's a good idea to clean out your fireplace more often. The two little boys were fine, by the way, but one of them had to stay in the fireplace for some reason, so we hooked him up on a little hammock in there and he swung around until he fell asleep.

5. Eating... favorite meal, breakfast. One of these days when I have time, I'm going to fry myself an egg that looks like this but today it was just a toaster waffle.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A few new enjoyable things, luddite edition

Inspiration from these prayer cards.

Ben and Jerry's Cinnamon Buns:
Caramel Ice Cream with Cinnamon Bun Dough and Caramel Struesel Swirl

Knock-knock jokes, the concept of which is only partially understood by one member of the Casa Juniper household, or else that one follows the surrealist school of knock knocks, with offerings like this one from today:
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Shampoo who?
Shampoo lettuce in the dryer!

Monday, April 23, 2007

A few new things, technology edition.

We finally started watching Battlestar Galactica tonight. Beginning at the beginning makes so much more sense than the half episode we watched at my brother-in-law's last summer. We're hooked already.

En route to other things, I stumbled across a new-to-me website Spirituality and Practice. I cant find a way to link to it directly, but be sure to take the Spiritual RX quiz in the upper right side of the home page. It is more than fun.

Electric toothbrushes really are better.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday Five - Surprised by Joy

Songbird writes:
Jesus said to them, "Children, you have no fish, have you?" They answered him, "No."
He said to them, "Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea.
(John 21:5-7)

Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
(Psalm 30:5b)

This week I've been watching parents of the young people slain at Virgina Tech trying to make meaning out of the lives of their lost children, and each one seems to begin by focusing on something joyful about that child. It's a gift that most humans have brains wired to respond in that way. For some of us it can be harder to work our way out of dark places, but I believe joy remains the key. It is the spirit of resurrection.

Tell us about five people, places, or things that have brought surprising, healing joy into your life.

This is an easy one this week and it was hard to stop at five. (so glad you didn't ask last week, though, when I was hard pressed).

1. Spiritual director, who recently gave me this assignment, after I complained about the impossibility of something: "Let your prayer be 'God, I'm eager to see the miracle you are going to work that will make this possible.'"

2. Brother, who called a couple hours later with a possibility.

3. Husband, making The Scary Face (truly, it is very scary!). Son, shrieking and then laughing and then asking for another one.

4. Sunset Park...

5. ...and strong legs to walk there on.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


This in my in box this morning, from Barbara Crafton:
Sons. Daughters. Husbands, Wives, mostly students -- nineteen or twenty years old, brand new adults who will never have the chance to become husbands or wives, who will never have babies or grandbabies, beloved children whose parents loved them wildly and never got a chance to say good-bye. Across the state, a frantic search for favorite photographs and videos, a saving of voicemail messages in that wonderful young voice, a planning of funerals, the kind thousandfold baking of casseroles and cakes for families who cannot bring themselves to eat.

Oh, beloved! Oh, dear and funny ones, serious young ones, confused and uncertain young ones and confident young ones -- may the holy angels lead you into paradise and may you be there, in some mysterious way, everything God intended you to be here! Oh, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, grandmas and granddads! Oh, aunts and uncles and cousins and friends -- you all deserved so much better than this.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

6 weird things about me

I'm having one of those days where everything about me feels weird to me, so I'm not sure this is good time for this meme, but since I was tagged by wonderful and amazing Cheesehead, here goes.

1.Once you've told me something you like or do not like to eat, I cannot forget it. (If you change your mind, and suddenly start eating, say, gorgonzola cheese again 15 months later, it will throw me all off.)

2. I know all the words to all the songs from both The Music Man soundtrack and Ferron's Testimony.

3. I went to part of elementary school in a one-room school house on an island in Lake Superior. (Now that is weird and kind of cool, don't you think?)

4. I love to eat liver. (I know this is a disgusting organ, responsible for cleaning the toxins from the body, but that does not stop liver and onions, especially with bacon, from being yummy.)

5. Unlike the rest of America, I do not like diet soda or chocolate or television. (I have other addictions. Like cinnamon sugar and butter on toast. And

6. I dont usually have time to put on make up in the house, so I put on my mascara in the car. I almost always wait until I'm at a red light. (Oh, wait, that snuck into this list from the "6 annoying and dangerous things about me" meme.)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Amazing Grace (the movie not the song) Sermon

The scene is the dining room of an elegant 18th century English manor. One of those gathered says to the host, until tonight a perfect stranger: “We’ve heard that you’re a man who wants to see things before you believe in them,” He sweeps his plate aside, and pulls out of his carpet bag implements of the slave trade - leg and arm irons, a metal band to go around the neck. Then, Equiano, the only person with black skin in the room, unbuttons his shirt to show a terrible scar on his chest. “When you are captured,” he says, “you are branded to let you know that you no longer belong to God but to a man.”

Have you seen the movie Amazing Grace? I can highly recommend it if you have not. With a remarkable lack of gore, it portrays the effect of slavery on British society, and the small group of dedicated people who work to rid britain of legal slavery.

I’ve been reading more about this intriguing group of people since I saw the movie. Turns out that the man who brought the shackels to dinner was Thomas Clarkson, who had first learned about slavery when he was researching an essay he wrote for Cambridge University’s Latin prize in 1785. He answered the question: Is it lawful to make slaves of others against their will? All he wanted to do was win a school prize, but he threw himself into the research of it – interviewing slave ship captains and reading extensively. The effect was unexpected - he found himself overwhelmed with horror. After months of research and writing, his essay won first prize, and that could have been the end of it, but the information he’d uncovered would not let him go. Leaving the university, he describes what happened “I sat down disconsolate on the turf by the roadside, and held my horse. Here was thought that came to my mind: that if the calamities of the essay were true, it was time some person should see these calamaties to their end.”

End slavery? Impossible! Slavery was completely entrenched in society, culture and economy at the time – the very structure that had just awarded him a presitigious prize. But the idea that “some person should see these calamities to their end” would not go away and gradually it dawned on him that maybe he was that person.

Thomas Clarkson was familiar with scripture, and he certainly would have read accounts of the work of the apostles of the early church, like this one from Acts 5:27-32 (NRSV):
When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”
We’re plunked into the middle of the action here, which so often happens in the book of Acts. This is the book a bible scholar friend of mine calls the “bible’s comic book” – there’s always something going on and it’s usually fantastical. In the verses just before this, the apostles and Peter have been healing people, were jailed and then were freed by “an angel of the lord.” They immediately returned to the temple to preach, and then they were picked up again.

Then the repeat offenders then give this compelling little speech, including: “we must obey God rather than any human authority.” OBEY – how you feel about that word, which we usually use in social or legal situations, probably depends on how much power you have at the moment. We want our kids to obey us for example, but we would chafe agains saying that we would “obey” our supervisor at work. We want corporations to obey the law when it comes to paying us fairly, but when it comes to cheating on our taxes just a little tiny bit, well, maybe we’re not all that obedient.

So, obey has a social connotation for us – but what about obeying God?
Try it on for size for minute: We must obey God, rather than any human authority. The word translated OBEY is from the greek word meaning “To follow or to do first” What would it mean if we took it seriously to do GOD first? or maybe, to put it another way: “what human authority you willing to DISOBEY in order to follow God?”

William Wilberforce, the lead character in the movie Amazing Grace and the host of the dinner I described earlier, is willing to follow God, even says that he loves God, but he just isn’t sure what God wants. It takes Thomas Clarkson, throwing the shakels on the table and then Equiano, revealing his scars to make Wilberforce believe in the cause of abolition strongly enough to make ending slavery his life’s work.

That whole scene – the friends gathered in secret, the revealing of the scars to one who was uncertain, and in the end a decision of faithful action -- is like the Thomas story we heard earlier. Jesus is gone, and they are hiding in a locked room, wondering what to do next. Then the risen Christ had to appeared to all of them, all of them except for Thomas. When he returns again, in the passage we heard today, this time with thomas there, it’s because he knows that thomas needs to see in order to believe – needs to be shown the scars in order to be moved to total belief, needs to totally believe in order to be moved to action.

Say you are willing to follow God, say you are willing to put God first. What scars do YOU need to be shown in order to totally believe, in order to act?

I was surprised to discover that the book I’ve been reading to learn more about the real people in the Amazing Grace moive, compares the aboltion movement of 200 years ago to our own struggles for human rights today. The book begins this way: (Blog readers - there's longish quote here from "Bury the Chains" about the invisibility of the labor that produces our goods - if you really really really want to hear it, I can copy it for you. But really, you should read the book yourself. It's pretty great.)

Then, as now, it’s a problem of information overload. The problem is – how can you feel it – the pain of the slave in the sugar plantation, the indonesian child laborer, the chinese prisoner, the latino agricultural worker? It feels so overwhelming that instead of trying to do anything with this information, we turn the page, switch the channel, move on.

A couple of years ago, a shy teenage boy named Zach Hunter heard these statistics: 27 million peolpe are in slavery around the world, right now, today. He heard that most slaves today are prostitutes, agricultural workers, or domestics. Many of them are children, sold to pay off family debts or tricked into believing they are heading for real, paying jobs. Zach heard the defination of modern slavery: when one person controls another thru violence or threat of violence, pays them nothing and then uses that situation to make money from their labor.

Zach, a typical ninth grader, who goes to school, plays catch with his younger brother and listens to music, did not despair, as you or I might when he heard these things. He did not listen to his parents (those ultimate human authorities) who told him, “you’re too young to make a difference.” Like Thomas Clarkson, who 200 years ago sat by the road and thought: “some person should see these calamaties to their end” and then wondered if he was that person. Like Peter and his friends 2000 years ago, who bounced out of jail once and risking prison (or worse!) again spoke to those in power: We must obey God rather than human authority. Young Zach Hunter saw what needed to be done, and he decided to do it.

Zach started a movement called “loose change to loosen change” encoruaging people to give their dimes and quarters to end the tragedy that is modern day slavery. He wrote a book for teen activists called Be the Change. Zach says that he believes that with God’s help, all things are possible, and he knows this is true from his own life.

When he was younger, he had suffered from anxiety in groups so powerful that at times he would be physically sick, but he told ABC news that as soon as he started speaking about the abolition of slavery that he stopped being nervous. Now he speaks to 1000s of teens a year, often at concerts or other gatherings, about ending slavery in their lifetime. Impossible? That’s what they said to Peter and the apostles, and that crowd started a movement that we continue today. That’s what they said to Thomas Clarkson, but he did not quit until slavery was exposed and made illegal.

In speaking to a classroom recently, Zach Hunter told them the facts he’d learned about slavery, and then he told them: “you don’t have to feel bad anymore, because we’re going to do something right now.” By that statement, he said no to the human authorities that told him change was not possible and hope was meaningless. By that statement he said yes to obedience to God – a God of hope, of new life, of resurrection.

The disciples did not despair, even in the darkest hours of fear and imprisonment. The tiny abolitionist movement did not despair, even when every force they respected was arrayed against them. Zach Hunter, 14 year old boy, does not despair. And we here and now, the week after easter, knowing all that we know and believing anyway in the power of the resurrected Christ, we do not despair.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Theology in the kitchen

Child: Do Spidermens have webs that come out of them?
Mother: Yes.
Child: Some people think that Spiderman is God.
Mother: Well, what do you think?
(child walks away)
Mother: (ungrammatically) Hey, come back here! I didn't hear what you thought about who God is!
Child: (indignant) Well, I don't know.

Friday Five - Dental Edition

From the RevGals, some of whom seem to be in dental distress this week, the Friday Five:

1. Are you a regular patron of dentists' offices? Or, do you go
a) faithfully, as long as you have insurance, or
b) every few years or so, whether you need it or not, or
c) dentist? what is this "dentist" thing you speak of?
I'm sort of B-ish on this one. Although I am getting my teeth cleaned next week for the second time in 12 months.

2. Whatever became of your wisdom teeth?
Still lurking in there. Even though they are sideways and look very alarming to me on xrays, everyone who actually is a dentist agrees we should let sleeping teeth lie.

3. Favorite thing to eat that's BAAAAAD for your teeth.
Probably caramel corn.

4. Ever had oral surgery? Commiserate with me.
I actually have very few gruesome tales to tell about the dentist. Except for the time that I was getting a filling while Eli (6 months old) screamed in the front office for 35 minutes. There was nothing that either my long suffering husband or the annoyed office admin could do, since we had forgotten his bottle. But I really think that's more of a parenting story than a dental story, don't you?

5. "I'd rather have a root canal than a ride on a roller coaster." Yeah, I really, really, really don't like roller coasters.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Preach it, sister!

Sometimes I think I should have a whole other blog, just called "Talking To Peacebang" because I love her blogs so much and she so often elicits a response from me, other than "yeah, me too" which is what I usually look for in a fellow journeyer on the blogway.

For example, recently she blogged that she was bummed out by dates with messy or badly decorated apartments, which got me thinking about how no one can do it all, and maybe the perfect guy is out there, lacking only Peacebang's keen eye and sense of fashion to make him complete. I was going to tell her, maybe helping a guy figure out just how to decorate his place would be the perfect way to really get something going....and it could be fun! I was going to tell her not to write off those guys with gross apartments just automatically. I thought it would be funny if I could work in that quote from Clueless when Cher is talking about the guy she has a crush on, and she's all "He's such a snappy dresser. What would I bring to the relationship?"

Anyway, I never got around it to it. And who has time to start another blog? I can hardly keep up this one.

Turns out Peacebang's REAL persona is as great a writer as her bloggy one. And here's some of my favorite writing on Jesus since Dorothy Sayers. I'm definitely keeping this quote handy as it pretty much says it just as I would, if I could, you know, write like this. Which I cant. But I sure am grateful that writing like this is out there.
Who is Jesus Christ to me? He is both a teacher of the Way, and the Way itself. For one who has always had a hard time grasping the concept of God, let alone developing a working definition of God, Jesus both points me toward a definition of God and then lives that definition. Jesus Christ is the freedom that laughs uproariously at the things of this world, while loving me dearly for being human enough to lust after them. He is my soul’s safety from all harm. He is the avatar of aloneness, a compassionate and unsentimental narrator of the soul’s exile on earth, and proof of the soul’s triumphant homecoming at the end of the incarnational struggle. He is not afraid to put his hands anywhere to affect healing. He mourns, and weeps, and scolds, and invites. He is life more abundant and conqueror of the existential condition of fear.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Week of rest

At the risk of mortally, eternally offending my revpals in the audience, I have to confess that I'm weirdly unbusy this week. For some reason, most of the headless-chicken-running I usually do at this time has been picked up by other people.

But of course, no one calls or expects anything, because it's Holy Week so I must be crazy busy. After a few days of flailing around, I'm really enjoying it. I just got in from mowing the lawn (oh, yeah, and more things to irritate you - it's actually spring here). Yesterday, Eli and I had a picnic at the beach.

There's lots of church, but I just show up and read my part.
It's like being a consumer Christian again.

In case you are in the same boat, might I suggest one of these two crafts ? Goodness, how did we ever keep busy before there was flickr?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Labyrinth Walk

We were encouraged to take the time we needed, and I was tired-er than I would have thought after the workshop I led, so I skipped the early afternoon Bible study in favor of Persuasion and napping in my bunk. Then, walked around the so-called lake. Really, I do try not to be a snot about it, and the little pond is dear and lovely, but it is nothing like a lake. I was pretty late for the late-afternoon workshop, but thought I'd buzz in, walk the canvas labyrinth really quick to say I'd done it and then see if I could talk my pal into a quick paddle.

Which is just not possible, it turns out. A quick little labyrinth walk, I mean, even in canvas. On the floor of the dining hall. With all the tables pushed to the side. And lights off and candles lit for atmosphere.

I had missed the instructions, but I'd heard them before: Walking in, release. In the center, receive. Walking out, respond. I could walk without hearing those words again. If you're getting the sense that I was little cocky and haphazard about the whole thing, you are getting the right sense about it.

Walking in, release. So I lifted up the question I've been bugged by lately "Where I am supposed to be?" - meaning to let it go, meaning for it float away like a balloon cut from the string, but it fell with a heavy thud instead, and I kept tripping over it.

In the center, receive. Here are the words I heard: "Homesickness IS your home." I've talked here (and, believe me, in the rest of my life ad nauseum) about a certain sort of restless loneliness I get a lot, as well as the confirmations I keep getting that those feelings are supposed to be my gift to the world, somehow, even though I mostly hate them. I sat for a while, waiting for something else, something easier or lighter or funnier. But nothing came, so I started out again.

Walking out, respond. Walking out, I picked up a card from among the little word cards that were scattered around the path. It really bugs me now that I can't, a week later, remember the word, but at the time I know it seemed like exactly the thing. Mostly I cussed under my breath and wished my load were lighter.

Later, the woman from my church and I talked about. She was impressed how the labyrinth doesnt really seem like much, just a pattern, but walking it really moved some stuff around in her soul. I was the smarty pants pastor and said something confidently that, as I was saying it, realized that I did not know if it was true. Or if so, where I'd heard it. "Well, there's a science to the movements and the distances. It truly affects your body in a biological way and that unsettles the subconscious."

So, I said I was transformed before, which may have been strong.
I was surely unsettled. Maybe some kind of change will come of that.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The World's Most Boring Blog

Since I havent yet written about
1. the women's retreat last weekend, where I was Transformed By God after a seemingly casual stroll on (in?) the labyrinth, or
2. about my awesome brother's awesome visit (Washed the sheets! Dried the sheets! Folded the sheets! Not to mention repair of lawn mower, indulging my dormant scrabble habit, mending of clothes, playing catch with Eli for like 38 hours! You rock, J!) or
3. the gorgeousness of a four year old in his first ever palm parade or
4. even the weird weather we seem to be having (snow? are you KIDDING?),
you'd think that one of those is what I'd be writing about today.

That's what you'd think. But you would be wrong.

Because this is now the world's most boring blog. And even though is DID turn out pretty scrumtious, especially considering it was three new-to-me recipes, posting a menu from tonight's dinner, which I made in honor of my friend's birthday, is really pretty much scraping the bottom of the blogging barrel.

You know how will smama always says, if it's a dog to walk it proud?
Does same go for blog entries as for sermons?

Psuedo-Japanese Birthday Dinner
Edamame dip
Carrot and jicama crudite, pita chips

Salmon with Pineapple Teriyaki Sauce
Soba noodles with cucumber and miso/tahini sauce*
Brown rice
Spinach steamed with garlic

Chocolate cake
Whipped cream

*Email me if you're thinking of trying this. I have some opinions. But that doesn't surprise you, does it?