Sunday, January 30, 2005

tomorrow, tomorrow...

School starts tomorrow. Last semester! I am a mere 15 weeks from graduation, people. 15 weeks! AAAA!!!! What am I going to do with myself? besides, you know, all the stuff I still have to do in order to fulfill the requirements of my presbytery. hmm..

On the upside, my afternoon class was cancelled for tomorrow (prof out of town) so I won't be going from on-call to class, i'll be going from on-call to home. yay! Hopefully the power will be back on, because otherwise my newly purchased milk, for which I had to risk my life and use my four-wheel-drive yesterday, will be no good, and I will be sad.

and that's life. four wheel drive, hospitals, no class, and 250 pages of the private life book to go before Thursday. yippee!

Saturday, January 22, 2005

so i lied

i went to publix instead of kroger. sorry. :-) there were a lot of people with children there--it's like the family publix or something. people were staring at me because I didn't have a four year old holding my hand. seriously. weird.

Friday, January 21, 2005

leaving at last

after almost 36 hours, i'm going home. after I go to Borders. and kroger. but in any case, i'm leaving the hospital now. thankfully. yay! and I'm excited about the weekend--and I hope you are all similarly excited about the weekend. Happy Saturday and Sunday! woohoo!!! two whole hospital-free days, coming right up!!!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

ah!

it's hard to believe that I have to find a job sometime this year. craziness, actually. Who does God think he/she is, sending me here to atlanta, then into a small church, then into a hospital, and expecting me to somehow figure out where I'm supposed to go and what i'm supposed to do with my life, or at least the next little bit of it, without more concreteness? hello? a few years of school, five exams (four of which are graded half by people who are bitter about having gone through the same process and the other half are at least mostly clueless with a checklist, and the fifth graded by a computer) and some internships don't qualify a person to lead a church by themselves, do they? or even not by themselves, you know? it's a big job. I don't want it after all. just kidding. i've just been working on my CSC (Candidate Seeking Call) form and looking at other people's forms, and at some church forms, and websites, and desperately trying to find a way to do a Lilly residency, even though I know that none of them are funded any longer...trying to prolong the inevitable, I suppose. The dreaded call process. Give me a break--process? or noose? just wondering, temporarily. And, of course, I'm at the hospital, have been at the hospital for 13 hours, have another 19 or so to go, and i really want to be at home in my bed. but noooo....and i had to visit families who lost babies today. and a family about to lose the dad at age 62 to leukemia. i had to see the babies, touch them. i even baptized one. i know i'm not technically allowed to do that, but whatever. polity only goes so far when people's faith and emotional health are on the line, and they needed to have that baby baptized. so we did. communion of saints, priesthood of all believers, etc etc etc etc. luckily i got to follow that with a visit to a healthy baby and its adopting family. what a day. and there's more to come. oh boy. alone with nothing but my thoughts and a pager that tells me when someone's about to die so I can head off their family's run into the room. and To the Lighthouse which so far, in the first 25 pages, is not as easy to follow as one would normally hope for a book one is reading while on call. I need to get a life, but I can't because this hospital thing makes me too tired. and now I'm whiny so i'm going away to sit on the couch instead. prayers always solicited and welcome. thanks.

I love Dr. Pepper

but I hate their website. It doesn't really work the way it's supposed to, sadly. In other news, the hospital is relatively quiet right now. Please, God, let it stay that way. Please Please Please Please Please.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

saturday

my day is not going as i planned. silly thing like other people doing laundry, causing me delays in the dryer department. oy. why don't places have more dryers than washers? it takes longer to dry clothes than wash them. twice as long, actually. so you really need 4 dryers and 2 washers. then people could go in a nice smooth process. but no.....i am being oppressed, probably by a man because they didn't used to be ones who did laundry in the era when this place was built, and it's not cool. just saying.

Friday, January 14, 2005

hospitals

are very busy places. hence the lack of blogging recently. I apologize, and I also ask for your prayers for some energy for the rest of the month! I'm ready for a vacation and it's only been two weeks. Two more weeks to go, and then school starts (overlaps with this month of hospital land, actually) so there's no break for me just going going going going going..............and i'm tired. so there.

good news, though: today's mom's last radiation day. woohoo!

i hope you are all being good while I'm stuck in the hospital. I don't want to see any of you in my emergency room while I'm on call!

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Who?

Who?
Isaiah 42.1-9, Mathew 3.13-17
CNCP
January 9 2005

It’s been just four weeks since we heard John proclaiming in the wilderness that we all ought to repent and prepare the way of the Lord. Four weeks since we saw John getting ready for Jesus’ birth, right? Except for the part where Jesus and John are the same age. So now, two weeks after we celebrated the birth of Jesus, which was just four weeks after the annunciation, here we are standing in the muddy Jordan River. What was that about undue haste? On the other hand, kids just grow up so fast these days. Jesus went from birth to age 30 in just two weeks, which is pretty impressive even in our hurry-and-grow-up culture.

In any case, let’s just say it’s been four weeks. For four of our weeks, he’s been shouting about repentance and something about snakes and fire, he’s been yelling at sinners—maybe he’s losing his voice after all that shouting—and he’s dunking people in the water. He’s probably not into the Presbyterian sprinkling because it doesn’t go well with shouting. And all this time, he’s been telling people about the One who is to come, and how amazing that One will be, and that he can hardly wait. Who will it be?

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan. He stood in the line, waited his turn, made his way down the muddy bank to the murky stream they called a river, and waited to be dunked in the bacteria-laden water: the river that stopped running for the Israelites to cross into the promised land; the water that ran in the same place where Naaman the Syrian was healed; the water that feeds the Dead Sea and its spa-quality mud. When Jesus finally got to the front of the line, John looked up in order to shout out Jesus’ sins and order him to his knees in the water, but as he opened his mouth he found his words failed. Who is this man, the man who stopped John’s tongue? And suddenly John knew—in his mind and his heart; his gut feeling, his whole body were telling him that this man was the One, the One who is to come.

And so began the protests. I’m sure that we have only an abbreviated version of their conversation, standing there in the greenish brown water.
“Who do you think you are? I need to be baptized by you, what are you coming to me for?”
“Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.”
“Huh? In Aramaic, please? I can’t baptize you!”
“Why not?”
“Because you have to baptize me! I’ve been telling all these people that you were coming. Let me tell them that you’re here.”
“no, wait, I want you to baptize me.”
“I can’t baptize you! You’re the One who is to come!”
“You know you’re going to ask me later if I’m really the One.”
“No I’m not. I can plainly see and feel that you’re the One.”
“Can you dunk me in the water now?”
“Do I have to? It seems so wrong, so…sacrilegious.”
“Just do it already. My toes are getting all pruny.”
“All right then. Hold your breath.”

And John, who was probably NOT using the Trinitarian formula, dunked Jesus in the water and said some words about forgiveness. Or maybe he said words we’ve all heard before, words like “I have called you by name, you are mine,” or “child of the covenant.”
And when Jesus came up out of the water, he stood for a moment in the traditional Jewish pose for prayer, face lifted up toward the sky, and he opened his eyes and saw…the heavens parting before his very eyes, like the curtains on a stage, like the clouds in the sky in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and he saw…a bird? he saw it coming very close…and I always imagine a sweet little bird, about the size of a canary, floating gently down to him and perhaps flitting about a bit…but Matthew says that the bird alighted on him—maybe it landed on his head, this dove. Doves are substantially larger than canaries, too. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t like a bird landing on me. Maybe Jesus fought it off, or flapped at it a little, or maybe he just shook his head. I wonder if anyone else saw it and thought that maybe they shouldn’t get baptized today after all. Maybe John was even thinking, “whoa? what’s going on here? maybe I won’t tell everyone he’s the One, just in case he turns out to be crazy.”

And as Jesus was fending off the glorified pigeon, he heard it. The Voice of God. Matthew just gave us the abbreviated version of this too—it probably said something more along the lines of Isaiah 42: “here is my servant, my chosen, in whom my soul delights. I have put my spirit upon him, and he will not complain, but will do all kinds of good things like bring justice and heal the sick and bring light to those who sit in darkness. I have called him in righteousness and now he will be my covenant to the people, opening blind eyes and releasing prisoners, spreading my good news. Look at this new thing I’m doing, and I’m even telling you in advance to be sure you don’t miss it.” Now, it’s not clear that anyone else heard it, which is probably why Matthew just wrote “This is my Son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

Hopefully Jesus wandered off in a bit of a daze after all that. Probably he was wondering what it meant to be the Son of God. What was he supposed to do? How was he supposed to act? What was he supposed to tell his mother?—oh, nevermind, she wouldn’t be surprised. All the Voice told him was to bring justice, be a covenant, release prisoners, heal the sick, bring good news…couldn’t it have been a little more clear? A little more concrete? A five-step plan of action? A glossary of difficult terms? Who was he exactly? What was he supposed to do? What did it mean to be the Beloved?

I wonder if someone asked Jesus, “Who are you?” if he would have answered as the youth have learned from the Belonging to God catechism, “I am a child of God.” And then, if he were asked the follow-up question, “what does it mean to be a child of God?” if he would have answered, “that I belong to God who loves me” or if he would have given a complicated seminary-speak answer like he tried to give John about fulfilling righteousness. What does it mean to belong to God? It means to be the beloved, to be taken by the hand and kept by God, and also to have a responsibility to help people to see, to bring light, to establish justice. Too bad neither Isaiah nor God ever said it would be easy. Jesus has to go out into the wilderness—though we won’t hear about that for another four weeks. In Christopher Moore’s imaginative novel Lamb he goes to Turkey, Tibet, and India to learn how to be the Messiah from magicians, Buddhist monks, and Hindu yoga masters. But after all that traveling, fictional though it may be, the answer to the question “Who?” was the same. Too bad it wasn’t an easy answer, it didn’t come with glib definitions or a neat package. It came, and still comes, in muddy water, glorified pigeons, mysterious voices, and strange words. It comes with a little bit of a daze and some confusion, with mystery and awe, with a bit of a mess, really. And because “who?” is never far separated from “what do I do?” it comes with an assignment to be God’s servant in the world.

We all ask the question about who we really are, or who others are. We hear the question all the time: “Who are you?” The heavens open to give us the answer. “You are a child of God, sealed by the Spirit in your baptism, and you belong to Jesus Christ forever.” May you go forth to be God’s faithful servant. Amen.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

one week down, three to go.

this time, that is. three more weeks of hospital fun. You know, the usual. "hi, my name's Teri, I'm the chaplain. How are you doing today?" One woman told me that she wasn't going to like anything I had to say. One woman wouldn't talk at all (which may or may not be related to one of these two things: (1) her husband was in the room; (2) she had just discovered that she lost her baby.). It was a good week for pastoral care. Thankfully orientation is over. ugh.

In other news, my apartment is very clean.

and my cat is crazy.

that's all.