Monday, September 30, 2013

The Special-ness of Jesus

The last couple of weeks I have been preaching on the uniqueness of Jesus and why we he deserves our honor and worship as God-in-flesh.  I have to confess that this is something I do with more than a little fear and trembling because I don't want to A.  put down any other religions  or B. appear arrogant in lifting up Jesus, as I feel other pastors and Christians have been.

I don't think that lifting up Jesus means being like a school-yard bully "Ha, ha my God is better than your God!"   Yet at the same time, I deeply believe that Jesus coming to earth is a singular event in history and I want to witness to how much Jesus means to me and how he is worthy of glory and praise.  How to do both at the same time?   It is a question I have approached with a lot of thought.  I hope that my sermons and our worship of the last couple of weeks and in the weeks to come will help us to strike the right balance as a faith community.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Things Women Do to Hurt Each Other

I was doing some research around the internet and found this article.    I thought about whether this stuff happens at Calvary, I pray it doesn't, but since we are all sinners & fall short, I'm sure it happens sometimes.  Over and over in scripture gossip and inhospitality are listed with murder and sexual sin.  We often zoom in on the things that others do and forget that gossip is on the list.

Look at Romans 1: 29

29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters,[f] insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

Did you see it?  Yep, gossip right in there with slander, murder and rebellious toward parents. 
We have to be careful, of what we say, and of what we think.  The mouth produces what starts in the brain.  We have to practice, to train our brains to think good thoughts, think well of each other, and focus on the good intentions each person has.  Enjoy each other, the eccentricities can be annoying or funny & delightful depending on our attitude.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Pastor's Bookshelf: "My heart is an idiot"

I was driving to some meeting last fall, I remember that it was cold and a drive but I have no idea where I was heading or for what.  Anyways, I remember vividly listening to this guy describe his book and tell stories to the NPR interviewer and he was so funny I was laughing out loud, so much that my eyes were teary and I called my secretary to tell her to order the book for me from Amazon.  The book was "My Heart is an Idiot"  by Davy Rothbart.  The book is a memoir of Rothbart's incredible life of freely chasing after love and wild ideas.  Its amazing he hasn't been robbed or beaten up more.   He's a 20 something guy so the language is off color and he freely describes some raunchy situations -- This would NOT be a Calvary book club book!!!  But, if you can get past those parts, there are some lovely and heart touching stories as well.

For some reason, when I first got this book, I got almost half-way through it and stopped.  I'm glad that I finished it because this last chapters are definitely his best.  The chapter on his 9-11 experience of traveling by bus to New York to interview residents there was insightful.  Another chapter, on a wrongfully convicted friend that he visits in jail and the description of how this friend maintains his sanity with music and visits from his mom is deeply touching.   The rest of the book is funny, and lets you in on how crazy the search for love, intimacy and true connection can really make us in this modern world.

If you are up for it, Rothbart's book is worth the read for adults.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"Redfield Farm"

Calvary's bookclub book of the month is "Redfield Farm"  by Judith Redline Coopey.
I really enjoyed 90% of this book.  It is a Quaker woman's first person narrative of working for the Underground Railroad in pre-Civil war PA.  The main character, Ann, is part of a large Quaker family whose patriarch is passionate for abolition and inspires his son and daughter to use their farm to assist former slaves to freedom in Canada.  You learn a lot about both the Quaker faith and traditions as well as the Underground Railroad and slavery.    My only criticism is the last 10% of the book Coopey tries to hard to wrap up each and every story line of every character in the book into a neat bow.  Its too much.  Coopey should have left those storylines to the imagination and focused on ending Ann's career in the UR with more feeling and depth.  But, it is still a very worthwhile read and will stimulate a good discussion I'm sure for our book club.

Some discussion questions that have come to my mind in reading the book are:
 Would you have risked to help free slaves?  How much would you risk?  When would you say "I've done enough?"  How far can you go with equality?  So far that you would welcome a person of color into your family?

Do you believe in Miracles?

Video Shown in Worship this weekend --- what miracles have you experienced??

Thursday, September 12, 2013

From the Pastor's Bookshelf: Book 1

For my first book of the shelf, I chose the most recent book I was given -- "Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist's Journey into Seeing in Three Dimensions" by Susan R. Barry.   My kid's Vision Therapist, Dawn,  gave it to me last week because I was reading it during our visits.  It tells the personal story of Susan who was born cross-eyed and had several surgeries as a child to correct her eyes.  She could see 20/20 but her vision was not the same as a most of us.  She saw the world only in 2D, not 3D or stereoscopic vision.  So she investigated and tells us about her journey to correct her own vision and what she learns about the history and the science of vision along the way.

Its a good book, I really enjoyed her descriptions of how she saw the world and how her vision changes with vision therapy.  The part where she describes seeing in 3D for the first time was touching.  Some of the book gets really scientific and difficult to grasp, but don't let that dissuade you from reading about her journey and some of the other people who have had vision therapy as well.

I'm glad I read this book because it gave me a whole new understanding of what amazing work God did in creating our vision.  It has also helped me to once again appreciate what an awesome kid I have -- he has overcome so much more in his life than I have in my lifetime.   His courage and adaptivity to the world is astonishing especially considering what this book taught me about his condition.

If you want to know more about vision therapy check out  they are great people.

I am going to start on Calvary's book club book of the month "Redfield Farm" by Judith Redline Coopey and try to get another book of the shelf next week too.  Happy Reading!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Pastor's Bookshelf

So, here's my confession today: My bookshelf is a wasteland of unread books.    I love books, fiction or non-fiction, science, biography, novels and I really love self-help.  Every book is a good book to me.   In my love for them I tend to buy great books with excitement and anticipation over curling up and absorbing all its wisdom some quiet evening (preferably beside the fireplace with a cat on my lap).   Then reality hits and I read maybe a page or a chapter and then put them on my bookshelf too busy to finish.   If I really want to finish a book I encourage the church bookclub to read it, or do a Bible Study or sermon series about it so I HAVE to read the whole thing.

What is getting in my way of good reading?  Sadly, surfing the internet or watching British comedies on  ("Rev" is hilarious!).  Yep, nothing uplifting or filling in the least -- well, ok laughter is necessary too people, but. . . .   

So, this year I endeavor to break a bad habit and start a good one by challenging myself to turn off the computer in the evenings and read one book a week, start to finish.    I went through the house and my office bookshelves picking off all the lost, lonely, unloved books that have not had the attention they deserved.  They are a motley lot and they fill the top of my bureau in my bedroom where I intend to read them in my side chair, dog at feet, cat on lap or on bed.   To hold myself accountable in the good, Methodist tradition, I will blog about the book I read each week.  Hopefully someone out there will notice if I haven't been posting and casually ask me what's been so interesting on Hulu that I can't read  :)

Thats the plan!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Happy Grandparents' Day!

Tips for Grandparents 1. Enjoy not being in charge. You had your chance to parent and now it is your kids turn. Let them make the rules and decisions -- your job is to enjoy the kids and play with them not to parent them. 2. Don't give advice unless asked. Unwanted advice often sounds like criticism for the person receiving it, don't say "I would. . . ." "With you I always. . . " or other such sentences unless the parents ask for your help. 3. Respect the parents' rules. You may not agree with it, but you have to live with it. Don't break the rules or encourage grandchildren to break their parents' rules. Ask the parent to make an exception is you feel it would be worth it -- and accept their response whatever it is. 4. Respect the parents' values Your child may not agree with you on a certain issue that you find important. They have the right to teach their children their own values and beliefs. Respect their views and don't argue with them in front of the children. 5. Know the schedule and be accommodating to their lives. Your child-free life is probably more flexible than your kids' lives, so be willing to be the one to do extra driving and extra flexible with scheduling. Ask "what works for you?" Guide for Parents working with their Parents, now Grandparents 1. You are the parent - speak up and make your rules, feelings, and expectations clear. You are an adult & its time to have an adult relationship with your parents, this means clear communication about what you want. Talk to your spouse or co-parent first, then inform the grandparents what you decided. 2. Grandparents aren't babysitters unless you have had a discussion and come to an agreement about regular childcare, don't simply assume your parent is going to always be available to care for your child. Your parents have their own lives too. So plan ahead, ask and schedule together. 3. Don't make grandparents compete for the kids children need to know all of their grandparents. Do your best to encourage equal time between the grandparents whether that's face-to-face, phone, mail or skype. 4. Support your spouse Your spouse deserves your first loyalty even if the choice is between them & your parents. Make it clear that you are a team making decisions together & grandparents should respect both parents. 5. Let the grandparents spoil them. your child should know that the rest of the world is not like grandma. But its good for their self-esteem to have the extra doting from grandparents.