Your money or your life?
(This is a pretty close reconstruction of Sunday's homily: I'm mostly preaching extemporaneously these days, so any blogging of sermons is memory-dependent. Thanks be to the author of the commentary on Acts in the New Interpreter's Bible who sparked this train of thought).
7th Sunday after Easter
Your money or your life.
That's familiar scene in a lot of bad movies. "Your money or your life."
But it's also the theme of the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts.
A rich young ruler comes to see Jesus. What will it take to get me into the kingdom of heaven? Jesus asks him if he's obeying the commandments. Yes, all that. Give up everything you have and follow me. The rich young ruler walks away, sad, for he cannot do it. He cannot choose to give it all up.
Your money or your life.
The parable of the prodigal son--the young man chooses his half of his inheritance over everything else--his relationship with his family, and squanders it all.
And in Luke's Gospel, we are reminded that "Blessed are the poor. . ." not "Blessed are the poor in spirit
" as Matthew wrote, which has provoked many scholars over the years to wonder just how many wealthy people were in Matthew's congregation?
This morning's reading from the Book of Acts presents us with another choice--your money or your life. In Luke's story, Judas does not repent and give back the thirty pieces of silver he acquired to betray Jesus. He does not hang himself. Instead, he uses the money to buy land. Land means building a life--a home, a family, crops and flocks. But instead, he "falls headlong" or in other translations, "swells open," in a particularly gory passage for 10:30 in the morning and all his bowels gush out. What should be a field for life becomes a field of death. A field of blood.
Your money or your life?
Husband and I were up in Guthrie this weekend, and we wandered through a lot of the antique stores. When we left, I said to him, "there's a fine line between 'antique' and 'junk.'" It's amazing what we will spend our money on.
Developing a spiritually mature relationship with our money is part of our call. Money is neutral--simply something to be exchanged for goods or services. But it can becomes something else. But do we separate wants and needs?
A definition of addiction is that you are willing to sacrifice everything else for that which you are addicted to. . .
Your money or your life?
On this Sunday, the Sunday after the Ascension, we celebrate Christ taking human flesh into heaven, taking humanity to participate fully in the life of God. What could hold us back, keep us attached, weigh us down from ascending into new life in Christ?
Your money or your life. . .
why we now have a photo of the cast of "Lost in Space"
So Saturday husband and I drove up to Guthrie, the original capital of Oklahoma, and home of Victorian architecture, antique shops (and yes, a yarn shop) and various festivals. This time of year Guthrie hosts a Jazz Banjo Festival--we weren't sure if we were going to track down music, just wanted to get out of town, take a stroll, get a change of scenery.
We had been in the yarn shop and we were directed across the street to the Banjo Museum for information about the festival. (You've gotta love a town that has a Banjo Hall of Fame upstairs from the local Y, and across the street from yarn). We found our way upstairs, only to discover that the museum was hosting an autograph session by June Lockhart, who was the mother in "Lost in Space," (and on "Lassie" and "Petticoat Junction.")
Husband and I both spent afternoons of our childhood absorbed in "Lost in Space" reruns, so we enjoyed chatting with Ms. Lockhart. What, you may ask, what June Lockhart doing in a Banjo Museum? Her father was a famous banjo player and composer. Really. So she was signing autographs as a fundraiser for the museum.
Which is why we now own a June Lockhart-signed photo of the cast of "Lost in Space," the whole family, Dr. Smith, the Robot. (It was a tough call between that and the photo of the entire casts of "Petticoat Junction," "Green Acres" and "the Beverly Hillbillies," gathered together for one sitting. But I'm not sure I could take that much Zsa Zsa.)
We actually didn't hear much music, but we did catch a staged "shootout" on the main street, and finally decided that the best way to close our afternoon was a trip to the local Braum's outpost for cappuccino chocolate chunk frozen yogurt in a waffle cone. Cause, you know, the yogurt makes it healthy.
Now we have to figure out what to do with our photo. . .
This I Believe
Friday Five via the RevGalBlogPals:
1) God works in mysterious ways.
I believe this both theologically (God is God and we are not, therefore we cannot understand the ways in which God is at work) and through the experiences of my own life.
2. God has a sense of humor.
I once prayed that I would do anything, ANYTHING God wanted me to, as long as it didn't involve entering the ordination process.
3. Growing up as a Cubs fan is good training for the Christian life.
What will come first, the eschaton, or the Cubs in the World Series? (let alone WINNING the Series).
4. Our cats are alien observers from other planets, and are secretly recording their impression of our bizarre behavior. Well, when they'e not sleeping.
5. That the Good News is really, really good news. That we have a God who is willing to give God's very self to live and die among us, and to do that for the WHOLE WORLD. And that we have that real presence among us when we gather at the table for communion.
another Oklahoma Episcopalian in blog world
Go stop by and visit Stan
and welcome him to the blogosphere.
guess I'll have to see it
Here is the story I shared on Sunday during the sermon:
"Back when I first went to graduate school (the first time), in 1988, I found a church to go to on my first Sunday. The rector got up in the pulpit for his sermon, and said that he had been received a phone call from a local reporter who wanted to know his opinion on "The Last Temptation of Christ." The rector said he was sorry, he couldn't give his opinion because he hadn't seen it yet. The reporter replied, "that's ok, lots of pastors are giving us their opinion without having seen it."
The rector then said he wanted to go see it, and we could go as a group after the Thursday night service. So after Eucharist we piled into cars and drove over to the local cineplex.
Because of all the picketing and various threats from Christians (sigh), the theater had hired security guards. Said priest was still wearing his collar, as we were coming right from church. The guards got more and more nervous as the group surrounding this visible clergyperson got larger and larger.
Once we were in the theater, they kept checking on us, every 15 minutes or so. (They really needn't have worried. We weren't impressed enough with the movie, and the disciples' New York accents made us laugh in all the wrong places)."
After I recalled this story (as part of a larger point that Jesus' presence is not best delivered on film, but in the witness and Eucharistic gathering of community), I realized, I'm going to have to put my money where my sermon illustrations are, and go see the Da Vinci Code. So I can have some opinions of my own.
nice things in the mail
I got a nice envelope in the mail yesterday--registration information for the Royal School of Church Music Course in Tulsa in July. I have the privilege of being the chaplain for this course. I had so much fun last year observing the music director, meeting the staff, getting to know the kids, and walking around TU in the heat and humidity.
If you are nearby an RSCM course, I highly encourage going to hear the nightly evensongs, or the final Eucharist and Evensong. You will be amazed at what one week of serious rehearsing and fun can bring out of a choir.
The summer courses are listed at the main site for RSCM in America--which you can find here.
The Tulsa course is July 10-16. Nightly evensongs are held at University Methodist Church, and the Sunday Eucharist and Evensong is hosted at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Tulsa.
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of hearing Phyllis Tickle give three keynote addresses to our annual ECW conference here in the diocese of Oklahoma.
I haven't posted much about it because I've been digesting what she had to say since then.
Over her three talks, she built up a thesis that we are in the middle of another Reformation--a thesis that says that the common ideas underpinning the Reformation and modernity that we share in North Americahave been eaten away by various events over the past hundred years. She believes that Emergent or Emerging or what have you is at the center of this new Reformation, and that all of us are going to be affected by it, and have to choose what we're going to do about it in the next ten to twelve years.
The major common understanding of the past Reformation, she said, was about "sola Scriptura," scripture alone. And that's why we're fighting now about "the plain meaning of Scripture" and "scriptural authority." She divided North American Christianity into four quadrants, around a cross (with overlapping bits on each side): liturgical and social justice denominations on the top parts of the cross, who are concerned with orthopraxy, or doing the right things, and charismatic and conservative (that was the best word she said she could come up with), who are concerned with orthodoxy, or believing the right things. Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans would be in the liturgical bit--and our orthopraxy is about the right way to worship. Presbyterians, Methodists, our mainline Protestants would be in the social justice side--activities like Habitat etc. are examples of orthopraxy (she wanted to be clear this was about emphasis, NOT exclusivity). Charismatics and conservatives get their authority from different places--one from the Spirit and one from the Bible.
according to her, the new reformation is taking place at the center of the cross--i.e. as in Brian McLaren's book, "Generous Orthodoxy," where he talks about how he is formed by each of these traditions.
Each denomination is fighting right now. Everyone is affected. The outcome, she believes, is that 10% of our congregations are going to split off and form splinter groups who will hang on to "sola scriptura." The rest of us are going to be divided into those who become completely Emergent, partially Emergent, and those who re-vision their traditions.
Her talk explained a lot for me, like why we, in the Episcopal Church, are suddenly talking about the 39 Articles, a Reformation document. And why it seems like some of us are in completely different churches even within the same tradition.
One of the best things about her talk was she tried to take the sting out of it--this isn't bad or good, it simply IS. This change is happening--we can't stop it, we just need to decide where we are in it.
I'd be curious to hear what other's reactions are to this admittedly limited retelling of three plus hours of keynote addresses. . .
so you may remember
that husband and I spent a lot of time in this calendar year forcing eye drops into our cat, Houdini, until thankfully the infection in his eye cleared up right about that time all the creatures involved were sick of the whole thing. (Houdini still heads under the bed if we're both in the bedroom and making any sounds that remind him of the weeks of eye torment).
That cackling, mocking sound you hear in the background? That would be Houdini, laughing, at the female human occupant of the household, who has developed a sty, and has to put in antibiotic eye drops in her own eye every four hours.
plenty thinking, not much writing
That entry title sums it up, yes?
Much going on in the brain since hearing Phyllis Tickle at the ECW Conference. She spoke at length about the reformation she believes we in North American Christianity, and the next dominant model of church will be that of Emergent. . .not the only model, mind you. But that our options will be to walls ourselves off, retradition our own denominations, or find some place of connection between our traditions and the emerging Emergent (please don't think I'm quoting her directly in terms of word choice--I'm typing this without my notes in front of me).
I had picked up Brian McLaren's Generous Orthodoxy but had set it down in the midst of working on other things. . .I'm back to it again, although it's juggling space with McCulloch's biography of Cranmer and other things I'm perusing for an adult forum on the history of the Prayer Book. . .reading about that Reformation seems quite timely, actually.
I guess there was some writing, after all.
Or something like that.Kay,
her friend Pam and I trundled up to Arcadia on Saturday for a fiber rendezvous at a local attraction called Fort Braxton. (It was very rustic and also had lots of shade, which the fair-skinned among us appreciate).
Various Okie and Texan fibery types were in attendance, both vendors and attendees. There was dying and basketweaving and plain old weaving, and of course, and adorable little merino sheep:
Be careful, Pam, Wanda's trying to take you to the dark side. You innocently pick up a ball of yarn and some needles, or just a small loom, and the next thing you know, you're trying to figure out how many packets of Kool-aid you need to stick in your groceries for your dye pots.
The best part was hanging out with the alpacas. The whitish one with the blue eyes was Boo, and the brown one was Chaco. I can't remember the other one's name (help me out here, Kay).
They are unbelieably soft and they like to kiss noses with the humans. Also, if you read Kay's blog, she'll tell you about the noises they make.
When we got back to Oklahoma City, we went over to Gourmet Yarn for a bit. When I came out later, I found a business card from my husband stuck in my car door. At first I thought maybe it had fallen out of my car and someone had picked it up, but then I realized he had probably been at the running store next door and spotted my car at
Good thing I didn't come home with too much yarn.
belated Friday Five
I was having trouble with Blogger, yesterday, so I'm a little late:
1. Describe a memorable conference, retreat, workshop or convention you've attended.
Once I took a 24 hour bus ride from Chicago to Estes Park for a Young Adult conference at the YMCA of the Rockies. We got stuck in a blizzard, which made the trip even slower than it should have been. The St. Louis Arch is pretty in a snowstorm.
2. Tell us about a memorable speaker or preacher you've heard. Just recently, I had the pleasure of hearing Phyllis Tickle discuss the state of North American Christianity and the "emergent" trend. It gave me much food for thought which I'm still digesting. I am firmly planted in the Episcopal Church, yet there are some things about Emergent thought that I find useful and/or appealing.
3. Do you attend all of the scheduled events, or play hooky? If the latter, what do you do with your free time? I have been known to play hooky. I have been known to sit down and chat with others and miss workshops. Sometimes I also need some time to myself in the middle of such much "on" ness, even though I'm an extrovert.
4. Do you like having a roommate or would you rather have a room to yourself? I kind of like having a room to myself. Unless it's with the spouse.
5. What's the most exotic location you've conferenced or retreated? I think Estes Park in the middle of winter fits that bill. Breakfast was UP the hill in a brisk wind chill.
nothing profound here
Your Summer Ride is a Beetle Convertible
Fun, funky, and a little bit euro.
You love your summers to be full of style and sun!
This week marks a couple of anniversaries around these here parts:
Five years ago yesterday, on the feast of Julian of Norwich, I stood in front of a congregation in a long white dress. . . and got ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. (On Martin Luther's birthday I stood in front of a congregation in a long white dress and got married, but that's another story for another time of the year).
Last year this week we sent all the worldly goods (that we had not either taken to Goodwill or the junk removal service) in a moving truck, and we ourselves packed a cat in each car (note to my fellow knitters: I took the cat and the GOOD yarn. The Noro, it does not go in the moving truck). We then proceeded, cats howling, down I-44 to our new abode here in Oklahoma City.
Both anniversaries mark full times in our lives: plenty of adventures, both joyous and sad.
I happened to speak to someone I hadn't spoken to on the phone in 10+ years this week, and she remarked, "you sound like a different person." It reminded me of a clergy retreat I attended once led by Martin Smith, noted author and former Cowley brother, who pointed out that "ordination is the way we are working out our salvation." In this process of discernment and formation, both pre- and post-ordination, God has changed me. God is changing me, and I say with some confidence that God will continue to work changes in me, beyond my own imagining.
I spent May 8th, 2006 making hospital calls, planning an adult forum on the history of the Prayer Book, and chairing a vestry meeting. Not a bad way to celebrate one's ordination anniversary--not very exciting by the standards of Hollywood or even reality television--but real and precious nonetheless.
Mass on the Grass
I am a church rat. I love churches. I'm always fascinated by them and have been since I was a child, when I insisted that we take the "Super Tour" at Westminster Abbey. There is something about places that have been prayed in over time. That being said, I love getting out of the building.
Sunday we took our act on the road (okay, it was just across the street at the big park). We rented a picnic pavilion and celebrated Mass on the Grass. It was a nice fit for Good Shepherd Sunday (although I hadn't planned that--we just picked a date on the calendar when we knew it wasn't going to be too hot.) Actually, it was even pretty chilly yesterday.
Getting out of the building is so important because it really lets us all loosen up a bit. And I think it makes us pay more attention to what's going on. Things we take for granted in our regular space can become highlighted (or discarded, if they're just not that important). I particularly enjoyed being in this space because the best way to set up was to be in the round. Everyone sat at the picnic tables, which then turned into our lunch tables. A nice connection between the two meals.
A picnic table spread with a cloth becomes an altar. God can break in even into the most mundane of settings.
Just a nice loaves and fishes kind of day.
I'll have to stop making snarky comments about sequels
because here one is:
On Sale now
Did you like the RevGal Advent book? We have one for Ordinary Time (cleverly called, Ordinary Time
. I'll get it up in the sidebar soon.
via the RevGalBlogPals:
1. Favorite birthday cake/ice cream/dessert
My mom used to make this Austrian production called an Oblatentorte--nothing but wafers with chocolate in the middle, then a chocolate ganache on top.
2. Surprise Parties -- have you ever given or received one? Last year a friend and I surprised husband for a birthday of significance: since he loves all thing Twilight Zone, we decorated the room with all sorts of Zone type goodies, and I got him a black birthday cake with stars on it. . .
3. Favorite birthday present--I really can't top the whole spinning wheel thing that husband did for me this year--although last year's digital camera has certainly gotten its use!
4. What do you think of those candles that won't blow out? They're fun the first time. . .
5. Best. birthday. ever. Acutally, this year was really lovely. The church surprised me with a birthday party after the 10:30 service, husband surprised me with the spinning wheel, and it was a knitting guild weekend, and some of us went out to dinner afterwards for yet another party.
1-800-call the junior warden, please
One of the topics of Phyllis Tickle's addresses with us was Emergent Christianity.
(Really, I have lots of notes and I plan some longer, indepth posts about all of this. )
One of the hallmarks of some emergent churches, she pointed out, was that they are not always tied to a piece of real estate, and she gave us some examples of churches that simply gather in a park or wherever the leadership sends an email instructing the congregation to meet at the appointed time. As she pointed out, there are advantages and disadvantages to being connected to a piece of real estate.
Which I was certainly thinking about when I opened to the door to the vesting sacristy yesterday, having not been on there since Sunday, and discovered that somehow water had gotten in and soaked part of the carpet, leaving both a stain and a smell.
Yep, this would be the disadvantages of the real estate.
So I've been away at a major diocesan ECW Conference for the past few days. Our speaker was Phyllis Tickle, noted author and observer of American religion, and I have much I want to say about her, and I will, in a later post.
But let me tell you about my trip home instead. Because, as I was on the verge of tears in the QuickTrip parking lot at 71st and Memorial, it did occur to me, "this'll blog."
You see, I had to stay for a meeting after the conference. And I also knew I had a parishioner in hospice care. And I hadn't slept well because my mind has really been ruminating on all that it had taken in at the conference, or is trying to take in. (Sometimes it is better just to have an empty mind). So, on my way out, as I fled the hotel, I crunched the right front tire against a curb that was jutting out oddly of the parking garage pillar.
As it definitely seemed to be losing air, I went driving around looking for a service station, hopefully with the kind that have actual humans and a garage. None appeared, so I ended up at the aforementioned QuickTrip (and this, my dear knitting friends, is why I never got any yarn shopping done, despite the fact that I drove right past Stitchworks in my quest for air.) By the time I had bought a new tire gauge (where had my other one gone?) and tried to fill it with air, in the hot sun, out in collar and good pumps, I was slowly starting to realize that my only help (other than the divine) was going to be in the form of 1-800-road assistance. Said tire was getting flatter even as I was trying to fill it. At which point I also realized I had a phone call on my cell phone from home of said parishioner in hospice care. This is where I almost had a small nervous breakdown. And cut my finger (not badly) getting out the donut wheel.
Well, the very nice man in the tow truck put on the donut wheel, and directed me to local Well-known Tire Store, and my new hero, the guy at Well-known Tire Store, got me out the door with two new tires in 45 minutes, and with directions back to the interstate that actually cut about 15 minutes off my drive.
All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things shall be well.