Monday, April 26, 2010

I was only gone for a week, but it seems like a lot longer

Most of my blog posts these days are lists or random dots of things, a symptom, I think of the synapses in my brain that are firing out 25 word status updates all the time. I wanted to write something usefully coherent, but I dont have it in me tonight. So here's another list of randomness.

*The dog is moping around the house, wishing she could be with her dear friend, Uncle Bob, at whose apartment of abundance she gets to stay when we are gone.

*If you are the kind of preacher who delivers a eulogy from time to time, does the writing of them leak out into other interactions? Tonight we were having a perfectly usual interaction and unbidden into my head flew this thought, "How well we remember Jeff's helpful assertion about the importance of periodically draining batteries all the way before recharging them."

*We're watching a NOVA episode on dreams right now. In the dream group I was in years ago, I asked the facilitator, "But how do you KNOW if a dream is an important one?" and she replied, "How do you know if a thought is an important one? You just know." I've been wondering about that alot, because I do have a lot of thoughts that really arent that important, and I do alot of things that arent all that important, either. But knowing they are not important doesnt stop me from wondering, for example, how you tell the Olson twins apart, or from goofing around on Facebook for two hours of an evening. But I'm trying to develop more edifying hobbies.

*For example. Polyvore! Have you been over there? I go through collage periods sometimes (make sure to put Brownell's Collage Period in MY eulogy). I still do have that big box of magazines, scissors and glue stick gathering dust in my closet, more as a momento of times past than as the actual tools of an actual current craft. But collage on the computer, now, maybe I could get into that. The New Yorker says, "It’s the rare Internet pastime that feels productive—even if the product is just an online collage that you e-mail to a friend, with the message “Look, I made this outfit for you!” I've only goofed around on Polyvore a little, but it DOES feel productive, even if I'm doing much less than making outfits for friends (I would not PRESUME), but instead making outfits for Glee characters. What do you think of the collision of low (glee) and high (the new yorker) brow in that sentence?

* I got to do this incredible wedding last week. It was so beautiful how it all came together, and I got blown a way like you do sometimes about this amazing work.

*And, I was at this fantastic preaching conference last week. I wish I would have facebooked it or blogged it or something, but I was just soaking it in, you know? Anyway, I loved the worship and the singing, and the not having to really DO anything, just be. And I loved connecting with some seminary friends and finding we could just pick right up where we left off, and I LOVED being there with my dad. As he introduced himself to people, I heard things about him I'd never heard before. It was really cool. I ordered a CD of the lectures and sermons, so after I hear them again, I might be able to tell you more about the, you know, content.

*But with all this amazingness, the stuff that must be dealt with in the office, still must be dealt with.

*No worries, though. I can handle anything because in a couple of weeks, we will have our new sleeping apparatus, which has some other boring name, but which we are calling the iBed. Truly, it's a bed that adjusts the head and legs and has a massager. It's really for jeff , but I am going to benefit also. And! Truly! You can program it with your iphone to automatically adjust the head up if you start snoring!

*We live in incredible times, dont you think?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Unconscious Mutterings for today

  1. Philanthropy :: Bill Gates (you can take the girl out of Seattle, but not Seattle out of the girl, I guess)

  2. Said :: he said, she said

  3. Blanks :: Fire!

  4. Tapas :: Oooo! The first time I had tapas was with with Rachel at a very cool little dark place in Portland. That was years ago now, I wonder if that place is still here. Anyway, we were living in Seattle then, and we were eating Tapas to kill time because we'd come down to Portland just for the day, and heading back we wanted to miss the traffic. But it took us 6 hours to make the 3 hour drive anyway. Something about a jackknifed semi if I remember correctly.

  5. Orgasm :: Geez. No WAY am I answering that one. My MOM reads this blog. .

  6. Movement :: Easier in the water with these old knees.

  7. Detention :: I got nothing for this one. I was always a prissy goody two shoes as a child.

  8. Restaurant :: As I type this, I am in the Village Inn eating a piece of coconut pie. True. Evdiently WW-free weekend has been extended.

  9. Weird :: Weird? Who you calling weird?

  10. Sniffle :: So glad that the spring flowers dont affect me much.

Unconscious Mutterings found here.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Today's Sermon


Easter Sunday Sermon 2010

For the last month or so, every Wednesday night, a group of us have gathered here to hear a member of another faith talk about their belief system. And from each one, we’ve taken a little something – like going with the flow (Taoism), taking a day each week to rest and renew (Judaism), appreciating the many aspects of God (Hinduism), looking more for our commonalities than our differences (Islam), reaching inside to find the compassion and love that resides within each one of us (Buddhism).

It sometimes happens when you learn about other things; you gain a new appreciation for your own thing, whatever that is. During Lent, I’ve come to appreciate more the particular way in which we as Christians experience the Divine. Because, in no other religion that we studied does God come directly to people. No other wisdom figures – not Confucius, not Mohammed, not Buddha – claim (as Jesus claimed, and as his followers continue to claim) that they actually ARE God. They might offer a path toward a more loving, more compassionate, more thoughtful, more just or more grounded way of being. But as Christians, we are unique because our God comes right toward us to live among us in the person of Jesus.

It’s unique to us, and so we have reason to treasure this, but it’s also hard to understand, hard even for those who knew him best to understand it. This is why Mary, when she sees Jesus, tries to grab him. But she cannot. This because Jesus is fully divine – fully a god-person. That’s why she calls him a new name. When she sees Jesus and thinks she knows him, she calls him “Teacher” but later she tells the disciples “I have seen the Lord.” With those words she says she recognizes he is more than teacher, healer, friend. He is a godperson.

Of course, he did have an earthly life, and these are some of the facts we have about that life: he was born into poverty and danger, at the age of 30 he became a wandering preacher and healer, whose radical message of love and inclusivity was so threatening to the powers that be that church and state worked together to have him killed. Which, they did in the most horrible possible way.

And then, what happened next? The details are sketchy and difficult to corrobatorate from gospel to gospel. In every gospel, people are always running back and forth from the tomb, trying breathlessly to explain something that cannot be explained to people who cant or wont believe them. I guess there’s a reason we don’t have Easter pageants, the way we do Christmas pageants. (hat tip Frederick Buechner) How would you act out all that confusion?

In spite of the chaos of the narratives, we do know this. The disciples (who had known Jesus as their friend, their companion on the road and around the dinner table, as a healer and teller of parables they only half understood) those disciples saw Jesus again after he died and understood something for the first time. He was not just a man. He was God, too. He was not just God, he was a man, too. And they saw him, this Godperson, even after they thought he had died.

Now. You know what your grandmother looked like, even if she died before you born, because you have a picture of her. A photo feels like a kind of immortality. Don’t they (whoever “they” are) always warn us that the picture our college roommate posts on Facebook will live forever? The science fiction show Caprica, takes that idea to the extreme, and characters do live after death when all the computer images and information about them is collected and collated in a parallel, virtual reality and those computer characters – called avatars - are now people brought to life.

So we can imagine, perhaps, that we know things about immortality that Jesus’ friends did not. After all, we have the pictures. But Facebook is just a snapshot of your life; in Caprica there is something very wrong – hollow and cold – about the computer avatars; and even that photo of grandma has got an expression on her face that no one ever saw on her in real life. Jesus, when he rose, was real. Real and alive.

Which is even more amazing, more mindblowing and incredible when you consider how he died. Rita Nakashima Brock says that “the Roman Empire used crucifixion against non-citizens, the under-classes, and slaves, and it was regarded as so shameful that even families of victims would not speak of it. The victim was left hanging naked and exposed to the elements. Bodies were left to rot and be eaten as carrion until nothing was left to bury, with no place for a memorial to preserve a person’s identity.

Crucifixion was designed to destroy an entire existence, so that even the names of the crucified were erased from memory. But the early Christians broke the silence about the shame and terror that crucifixion instilled. They spoke explicitly about Jesus crucifixion, the torture that preceded it, and his death.”

But that’s not all. Jesus died quickly and with dignity, speaking words of forgiveness and promise even from the cross. His friends removed him intact and buried him properly. They encountered the risen Christ in a garden, along the shore, breaking bread, and telling them to go home to Galilee. These loving details proclaim that those who thought they were in control had no power to erase Jesus from memory, to deny his humanity, or to end his work for justice, healing, love and peace. (previous 3 paragraphs adapted from this article)

The last words of today’s gospel have a potency that far exceeds simple declaration. When “Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” she was really saying, “The empire has tried to destroy Jesus and our memories of him, they have not; Rome has tried to frighten us into silence, they cannot; those in power want to end this movement and think that they have done so by eradicating its leader and they will not.”

He’s more than our teacher. God came to us and met us where we are and as we are. God suffered like we do and loved like we do. And the most powerful thing we can do is to speak of it, as Mary did, to say “I have seen the Lord.”

Those words can never be taken from us, no power on earth or in heaven -- not political authorities or church authorities or even death -- can destroy them. Wherever Jesus’ words of truth, healing, love and justice are spoken, the risen Christ is there. Christ is there whenever we speak against violence done in his name. Christ is there when grown children, abused long ago by priests and denied justice by a corrupt church system, refuse to be silenced. Christ is there in you, with you whenever you say those simple, those incredible words: “I have seen the Lord.”

When might you say them? When have you experienced the risen Christ in your life? When have you experienced a moment of truth, of healing, of love or of justice that spoke so loudly that it could not be silenced? Maybe in nature, with friends, listening to music, or in another time when your mind and all within you was quiet. Might even have been in church. When you feel that, hear the voice of the angel in your ear whisper, don’t be afraid. And then, proclaim it: I have seen the Lord!