One year to the day from the beginning of last year's sabbatical, I went off to a writing center to finish some work that has been on hold since last June. Four hours into a very productive day, my laptop fell off the desk and died.
Luckily the files have been (mostly) recovered, but I'm still laptop-less, which means less posting for a while. Check out that Lijit search bar for past Easter season posts!
OK, if you fellow clergy folk have not discovered PeaceBang, you need to read her. Great sense of humor, sassy opinions, practical advice, deep respect for the office of the ministry and some kind of Jesus-friendly UU spirituality I haven't encountered before. Beauty Tips for Ministers just turned three. Here's hoping she keeps going, even if she doesn't approve of Michelle Obama's lovely bare biceps. (And guys, she's got good ideas for you too . .. )
I love the book of Acts, but I hate the way the lectionary employs it in the season of Easter. Peter's out-of-context testimonies to the resurrection don't do much for me, and I can't imagine that the 50% of the congregation that will appear on Sunday will get much out of the portion the lectionary appoints. Acts 10 is too wonderful a story to have it chopped up in this way on a Sunday when we can't possibly do it justice anyway.
Anyhoo. . . like most preachers I'm focusing on the Gospel this week, but choosing to go with Mark instead of John. Yes, it's a very odd story, but it's oddness is a great starting point, I think. I figure a good number of people who attend on Easter Sunday are NOT showing up for the sermon, and they may resent having to be there at all (But Grandma insisted. . . ). But that's all the more reason not to just reiterate the stuff they already know and act as if this story is anything but very, very strange.
So, Mark it is. The women hear that Christ is raised, and run away, saying nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. But we know, and Mark knows we know, that this is not how it ends.
I'm moved by what Rob Bell put together in his Nooma "You." He doesn't reference Mark, but this seems to be a case where the sermon does what the text intended, namely to turn the one overhearing the gospel into the gospel. It doesn't end in fear and silence. It ends in testimony. I can't prove anything to anyone on Sunday morning, but I can bear witness, which is the only way the faith has ever been passed on anyway.
It always happens, round about now, that finally the ice goes away on the lake one block from our house. As of this morning there was still a big chunk out in the middle and funky ice formations on the shore, but in between the loons and mergansers are swimming around.
This is also the week both my children celebrate their baptismal birthdays. We break out the candles they received as infants, say a few celebretory prayers and try to do something watery, though wading in the lake is still rather uncomfortable. Some years this is the time we go buy the year's new swimsuit (but not this year. . . I can't bring myself to go shopping during Holy Week.)
The earth seems to go along with the convergence of events this year: Holy Week, Passover, and this year in particular, the dodecaoctannual ( I just made that up. . .every 28 years, I mean to say. . .) marking of the Jewish Blessing of the Sun tomorrow morning. For those of us who have endured a long winter and a cold spring, the light of this week is the most welcome reminder that, yes indeed, REALLY, life comes again.
It's been one of those ministry sprints lately, both practically and emotionally. Let's see. . .in one week we had a member lose her house to fire, a newborn infant requiring surgery and the death of a former staff member/ beloved member of the congregation. The congregation admirably marshaled their forces for a 400+ person funeral, and now we're re-grouping for Holy Week.
And there's plenty going on among friends and family too, from the difficult but surmountable -- my best friend broke her wrist -- to the near-miss scary -- my brother-in-law hit his head and is hospitalized -- to the truly unfair -- a seminary roommate has stage IV cancer.
I vacillate wildly between feeling extraordinarily blessed -- I have a healthy family and a job -- to being just plain exhausted by it all and dreading the next phone call.
Which brings me to Europe. There's been plenty of cultural comparisons going on in the press this week with Obama across the pond for the G-20. Here's our own.
One of our German relatives, feeling unusually run-down, goes to see her family practice doc. He hears out her list of symptoms and stressors, looks at her tongue, and proceeds to write a prescription: for two weeks off of work. This is in addition to a week she was already planning to take off this month.
Can you freaking imagine such a thing in the U.S.? No, no, we heirs of the Puritans would be admonished to exercise to increase our energy. Or maybe given a sleeping aid. Or maybe we'd be further evaluated for anxiety or depression so we could be medicated. But rest? NOT working?! The whole reason our employers pay for insurance is to KEEP us at work.
Maybe this is why, despite the staggering costs, many businesses still dread the single payer.