Friday, September 29, 2006

world communion sunday

Goodness is stronger than evil
Isaiah 2.1-4, Romans 12.9-21
World Communion Sunday 2006
Fairlington Presbyterian Church, Arlington VA

Isaiah 2.1-4
The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
Many peoples shall come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, an the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.


Romans 12.9-21
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Whenever I come across this passage in Romans, I have two immediate thoughts. The first one is almost always, “oh! I’d been wondering where that whole business about burning coals was! I just KNEW that was in the Bible!” and the second is about Desmond Tutu. Specifically his famous affirmation that “goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate; light is stronger than darkness, life is stronger than death.” This is the kind of world I want to live in—a world where good can overcome evil, where love overcomes hate.

But it’s not really quite so black-and-white, is it? Personally, I am extremely uncomfortable with the label “evil.” I think we use it too much, often for things we simply don’t understand, and maybe we don’t always mean it—or perhaps we do mean it, which is even worse. I think I am equally uncomfortable with the label “good.” After all, even Jesus refused the label, saying “only God is good.” But if even Jesus isn’t “good” then how are we supposed to be or do good? If only preachers had answers! Instead, what I have for you today is my experience, my story, which is not so much about being good as it is about living and learning with people who are different than I am, people everyone told me to be afraid of.

One year ago today I had successfully passed my 30-day Arabic class and was preparing for my first day in a classroom. A classroom full of 40 Egyptian first grade girls. It was the beginning of the school year. They spoke very little English, I spoke only a little Arabic, and we were supposed to somehow read stories and talk about them together. The other teachers were all Egyptian women, some of whom spoke no English. I was living in a lower-class Egyptian neighborhood where I and my fellow volunteers were the only foreigners, the only English speakers, and most of the time the only Christians. In my house were three other American young adult volunteers, a French volunteer, and a South African volunteer. The six of us lived in a little haven of English in a sea of incomprehensibility. We quickly learned how to get around our neighborhood, how to buy bread and fruit and sandwiches and kusheri—a delightful dish of spaghetti, rice, macaroni, lentils, tomato sauce, garbanzo beans, and fried onions. We slowly learned how to get around Cairo—to use the Metro, to take taxis, to walk without looking anyone in the eye.

This walking around without looking at anyone was the hardest part of living in Cairo for me. I am a friendly person. I enjoy connecting with people, meeting new people, being open and accepting and approachable. But in Egypt, women can’t be like that. Culturally, a woman who looks a man in the eye has initiated a relationship and he now has the right to harass her in any way he wants. So I learned to put a blank, vaguely angry look on my face before I stepped out the gate of the school. I learned to look at the ground instead of the people—which, it turns out, you kind of need to do anyway because sidewalks and streets are not in good repair. In short, I learned to put on not only my long skirts and long sleeves but also my brick wall.

Unfortunately, as a Christian woman especially, the brick wall doesn’t always help. I was still harassed on the streets almost every day—sometimes just words, sometimes really foul words, sometimes touching and grabbing and other physical abuse. Some of those times, I brushed it off. A few of those times, I fought back—not the most Christian response. I was lucky—some Egyptian Christian women walking through my neighborhood were dragged down the street by their hair. Some had acid thrown on them from passing cars. Many don’t leave their homes unescorted, some don’t walk or use public transportation at all, some stay home around the clock. The situation there often made me really angry, and I had few ideas about what to do. It took a long time for me to recognize the example Egyptian Christians were setting for me, showing me how to follow Paul’s directions.

About 12.5% of the population of Egypt is Christian. Most of those are Coptic Orthodox, a denomination that split off from the Catholic Church in 451. The church in Egypt was founded by Mark, the gospel writer, who is known as the first Coptic Pope, the bishop of Alexandria. Today the Coptic Pope lives in Cairo, in a big cathedral complex about a five minute walk from my house. The complex has big walls, a big church, a big house, and lots of big buildings full of classrooms, libraries, a gym, a seminary, snack bars, and an icon painting workshop. There is also green space—some of the only grass in my neighborhood—with trees, grass, benches, and peace. The Cathedral is a busy place, always full of people ordinary and extraordinary. Inside people are kind and friendly. Inside there is no trash on the ground—it’s one of the cleanest city blocks in Cairo. Inside strangers are welcome. The atmosphere inside the gate is different from outside the gate. I could look at people, I could make friends, I could go to the Pope’s Wednesday night Bible Study, I could socialize and learn more Arabic, I could relax a little and be myself. It was my oasis. I think that is true for many Christians in Egypt—they need a place to get away, a place to regroup, a place to be who they are without constantly being on guard. The Cathedral is that kind of place, where the body of Christ can be itself.

~~

Most Christians in Egypt have a small cross tattoo on their right wrist or hand. This cross serves as identification, as well as a notice to anyone who looks that the bearer is a Christian. It also serves as a personal reminder of who they are, what they believe, who they belong to. Outside the churches, on the streets and in the workplaces, on the Metro and at schools, Christians act differently. They don’t have the same brick wall that others have. They treat people kindly. When they are harassed on the sidewalks, they greet the person and move on. They don’t throw trash on the ground, though everyone else does. They help older people across the busy streets. They have helped me push my way onto an overcrowded Metro, given me accurate directions when I’ve been lost, and been eager to talk to me about their faith when they’ve been my taxi drivers or waiters. Often, when a Christian saw my necklace, they’d smile and show me their tattoo. Basically, they act the same outside the church walls as they do inside. I wondered if their knowledge that everyone around them could plainly see that they were Christian changed the way they behaved.

~~

I taught 240 first grade girls each week in 12 storytimes and 3 religion classes. We read a lot of books together, classics like the Very Hungry Caterpillar and the Polar Express. Toward the end of the year we were reading and talking about books like Red Hen and Sly Fox and The Rainbow Fish. In the religion class for Christian girls they learned the Lord’s Prayer in English, they acted out stories about Jesus and David and Elijah and Peter. We laughed and played and learned and read together. Those girls were my hope—every day they acted just like kids act. They loved each other, they played together, they studied hard together…though half were Muslim girls and half were Christian, it seemed that they had not yet learned that those differences can be barriers. They were just friends, classmates, study-buddies, my students.

~~

Though I felt at home in the Cathedral and in the school, it was always very obvious that I was different. Egyptians almost all have olive skin, dark hair, and dark eyes. As you can plainly see, I do not. One of the things I missed most about America during the year I lived in Egypt was diversity. I missed the fact that in this country there are people with light skin, dark skin, red hair, brown hair, blonde hair, green eyes, brown eyes, blue eyes—the fact that not everyone looks the same. In Egypt, everyone knew I was different even if they only caught a passing glance out the corner of their eye. In my effort to find a place that was at least a little like home, I attended an international English-speaking church called St. John the Baptist. In this church something happened that was basically a miracle.

In Egypt, you see, people who look different generally don’t associate together. Egyptians, for instance, for the most part don’t like Africans, especially refugees. There’s a large Sudanese refugee population in Cairo, and they are victims of a lot of racism, abuse, and systematic oppression. People from other parts of the world are often treated badly as well, unless they have plenty of money to spend. But in this church, every Saturday at 5pm people from all over the world gathered for worship. African refugees, Egyptians, Americans, Canadians, Europeans, other Middle Easterners, a few Asians…we were all together every week at five, filling a little Anglican church with song, laughter and tears, and communion. Every week we gathered around the table, 8 to 10 people at a time, from all around the world, from different languages and traditions and countries, and we shared the meal Jesus prepared for us. We extended hospitality to one another, we rejoiced together and wept together, we fed the hungry and gave drink to the thirsty, we played and prayed, and we ate together every week at the Lord’s table. We were made into a multi-colored body of Christ every week, while the Egyptian society around us looked on as though we were crazy.

I think these are some of the things Paul may have had in mind. The example these Egyptian Christians set (and the example I would like to think we set at St. John) was exactly the kind of thing I needed to understand what it means to overcome evil with good. Lots of bad things were happening—not just to me and my fellow volunteers, but around the middle east. There were, as usual, issues in Israel and Palestine. There were demonstrations in Cairo that turned horribly violent. There was the whole business with Lebanon and with Gaza. There’s the continuing stuff in Iraq and Iran. And through it all, these people I lived among continued to love one another, to work hard to outdo one another in honor, to welcome the stranger and feed the hungry. They lived out the love they have received from the only One who is Good. And it wasn’t even about the burning coals. It was about doing what Isaiah suggests: turning instruments of death into instruments of life.

Thanks be to God for these witnesses, for these friends, for these living reminders that God’s goodness is indeed stronger than any evil, for these fellow members of the body of Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

sundry

** life in sunny southern california is...excellent. Max is the cutest baby ever. In spite of his total inability to watch where he's walking, which today resulted in two major headbumps--one in which he walked right into a table and one with the door--that left gooseggs. He's still super cute. Not a ton of words yet, just "cat", "cow", "hot", "mama", "dada", "pop-pop", "bob", and maybe some more I haven't heard. "crap" is one we thought we heard...oops! Now we're spelling. LOL. Today we wondered if he said "cracker" but I don't think so. He loves being read to--he usually wants that more than anything else. He'll toss a book in your lap and stand there expectantly. He sometimes even sits down and opens one up himself, which is totally adorable. (he's 15 months old...he obviously can't read for himself yet, but it's still cool!)

** I got some furniture from IKEA and it will be delivered soon after I move in. yay!

** everything is in order for the upcoming trip to DC and then to close on my condo in Crystal Lake and then to head to Yakima and then to drive back to Crystal Lake with some stuff, my cat, and my grandpa (so I'm not all alone in driving). everything, that is, except for a sermon for this Sunday!

** plans for my ordination are proceeding nicely. My commission is mostly put together, the travel plans for family are made, etc etc. yay! In case any of you want to come, it's October 29th at 6.30pm at Fourth Presbyterian in Chicago. Come one, come all!

** susan made pad thai tonight and it was EXCELLENT!

** I spent the day with Jenny at the Getty Museum...also highly excellent. We had a wonderful time looking at art, eating portobella sandwiches in the cafe, and driving around LA. Good times.

** I will never understand public bathroom stalls where doors open inward. Especially at airports. Today I had to use the restroom in a Borders. The door literally came within a quarter-inch of the toilet, and was only a few inches narrower than the stall...I could barely open/close the door while I was in there! why do they do that? It's dumb.

** I am soliciting advice RE a stainless steel refrigerator. Tell me, what brands are good? How big should my fridge be? I like to cook, so I need a good amount of space, but I don't need a mondo walk-in-sub-zero fridge or anything like that. I am currently enamored of the bottom-freezer, as I think that's better for me since I prefer to use fresh stuff but sometimes forget about it hiding in the bottom.

** that's all for today. blanche (cat) is laying on the computer desk trying to get me to pay attention to her, so i shall. good times. :-)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I know you're out there...

The next person to recommend to me a book where a parent dies of cancer....well, I don't know what's going to happen to you, but seriously, it's going to be bad.

I miss my mom.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

woohoo!

Well, all is done/begun!

The presbytery meeting was a success. The candidate weekend was a success. The congregational vote was a resounding success! SO: I can tell you all about this now. I've accepted the call to be Associate Pastor at Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church in Crystal Lake, IL. I'll start in October.

yay!

and now I'm going to visit my fam again--Susan, Robert, and Max, here I come!

:-)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

notes and a sermon

Well, the Presbytery meeting was excellent--just one question. Now on to the candidate weekend, which involves preaching three services. The church is doing the "Season of Creation" series and I somehow got the "glory of the skies" week--Psalm 19.1-6. Here's the first round of the sermon. I'm a little worried about never moving to the words or Word, but the text doesn't and I'm having a hard time justifying that as an explicit leap. However, this is a smart and intuitive (and pretty progressive) congregation so I doubt I need to make everything obvious, but still.....anyway, without further ado, the sermon. Comments coveted before Saturday at 5pm Central time!

(sermon edited yet again--this sermon has had more editing and work than possibly ANY I've ever preached...Enjoy the new version...)

Busily Proclaiming
Psalm 19.1-6
RCLPC 16/17 September 2006

The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words, their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat.


Have you ever seen a sunset that just took your breath away? How about a sunrise? I see more sunsets than sunrises, since I’m not much of a morning person, but the few sunrises I’ve seen have really been spectacular. Two of my most memorable sunrises were seen from the top of Mt. Sinai, which I have had the privilege of climbing twice, both times in the middle of the night. We literally began climbing at 2 in the morning, when it was as dark as dark can be. We wound our way up by a trail and then by stairs, sometimes with flashlights and sometimes simply by the light of the moon and stars. The moon and stars, actually, are part of what made the sunrise so memorable. As we walked I was able to look up at the sky and I discovered that, for the first time in my life, I was in a place so dark that I could see the Milky Way. I stared and stared—I almost tripped—because the sky was so full of stars I could hardly even believe my eyes. In fact, it was a strange paradox. I could see all these stars because it was so dark, but there were so many stars that it wasn’t really dark at all—there were millions of points of light glowing down on all of us. By the time everyone got to the top of the mountain, the horizon was lightening and the stars dimming. I remember tipping my head back as far as it would go, trying to take in all those stars before they disappeared from view. And as the stars disappeared and the sun began its daily trek, incredible color exploded across the horizon. Everything from indigo to orange, from purple to yellow, from pink to white. As the sun came up, we were able to see more of the land around us. My group arrived during the night, and climbed in the night, so this was our first glimpse of the Sinai. Huge stone mountains and valleys emerged from the blackness into rich reds and oranges before turning into the usual brown color we expect from rocks. In those moments, it was as if an artist was frantically flinging as many colors onto a canvas as possible, trying to color the world as only a creator can see it.

Many of us have had moments like these—maybe not in so exotic a locale, maybe not in quite the same dramatic way, but we’ve had them. We’ve seen beautiful sunsets, incredible rainbows, strange and wonderful clouds, light streaming through windows or through rain. And many of us have been known to exclaim “This just has to be God!” My first morning on top of Mt. Sinai the traditional doxology was started by a bunch of nuns, and many of us joined in—in probably 12 different languages. Looking at creation—especially at the vast expanse of sky and space—leads many people to the affirmation that God is a great Creator and artist and continues to be at work. Creation is one of the most common places for people to meet God these days. Many in my generation would not say they first encountered God in church, but rather that they encountered God in nature. Some of them do end up in the church, but just as many end up out in the woods or the mountains, looking around to see what God has to say to them today.

The psalmist is definitely one who has met God in creation. He tells us that the heavens, the firmament, the day, the night, the sun…all are busily proclaiming the glory of God and the work God has done. The sky—in its vastness, in its simultaneous emptiness and fullness, in its colors and its darkness and its light, shows us a little something of God—God’s glory, God’s creativity, God’s handiwork. Even the day and the night pour out speech and knowledge.

Interestingly, the psalm says that day and night have no speech, no words, no voice to be heard…and yet their voice goes out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world. It’s strange to think of day and night having no voice, since there is almost nowhere without sound. Every day and every night is filled with some kind of sound, no matter where you are. Even in the Sinai desert, there were sounds—camels, insects, wind. Here there are birds, there are trees rustling in the breeze, there are crickets and chickens and cows and people and machines. Days and nights are full of sounds, both natural and man-made. And these sounds are a part of creation, a part of the chorus that proclaims the glory of God. Granted, the sky, sun and stars themselves may not be making the noises, exactly, but there’s definitely sound. But not words, not human speech, not something we can understand in our language.

I wonder if that isn’t exactly as it should be—if maybe God planned for all creation to be shouting Glory in a way that we can’t put into words. After all, the world is much bigger and much more mysterious than we would like to think, the universe even more so, and God is even bigger and more mysterious than that. We humans are prone to putting things in little boxes, using lots of precise words, and defining everything as neatly as possible. But here we have something so grand, so incredible, so glorious that human words are useless. The day and night, the sky and stars and sun, they have it right. They are busily proclaiming God’s glory with voices we can’t hear or understand, and yet are heard through the whole world, to the very ends of the earth.

In spite of the utter uselessness of human language for talking about God, it’s likely that you’ll hear a lot of words from me. I think that might be a common affliction among preachers! You’ve heard the cliché about words: a picture is worth a thousand of them. Well, my average sermon is about 2,000 words. And it’s true that all those words don’t do justice even to just one picture of the sunrise I described to you earlier, and that picture doesn’t do justice to the actual sunrise. In the same way, no matter how many words I might use to try to describe God, or no matter how many words we might say together to express praise and give glory, we just can’t do justice to the real thing. There is something so indescribable, something so mysterious about God and the handiwork of God that we just can’t use words. All we can do is look, and marvel, and be in awe.

Now, normally when I find myself in a situation where words just won’t work, I find myself humming, and one of the songs I often hum is the one we’re about to sing together. There is a saying that “whoever sings prays twice” and I think that’s true. I can’t express much about God with my own words, but somehow with both words and music it’s a little easier. It’s still inadequate, for sure, but something about music just takes it to the next level for me. Creation uses sounds and colors and music. Some traditions use speaking in tongues. We aren’t really into tongues, but we can do sound and color and music, we can use art and song and dance...things that give us the chance to breathe and move and praise with the world around us. And we should also not underestimate the power of sheer awe: of just being in the presence of God with no trappings—no witty dialogue, no pretense, no understanding, just being.

We find ourselves in the presence of God in all kinds of places—in the valley, on the mountaintop, in the forest, in the church, in the car, with our families, and lots of other places. It’s important to be in those places. But we don’t get to just stay there. We don’t get to just sit around looking at sunsets all the time and marveling at God’s creation. Yes, we must marvel, but then we must go out and proclaim God’s glory. I think one of the best ways we can do that is with our lives, not just with our words. The heavens are telling the glory of God in their very being—just by existing and doing what they do, the heavens are busily shouting their praises. In the same way, how we act, the things we do, the way we treat people and the earth—these are ways that we can move beyond our limited language and proclaim the glory of God to the whole world. One of my favorite quotes is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Proclaim the gospel at all times,” he says. “Use words if necessary.” St. Francis spent a lot of time out in nature, and I think he got it. Loving action can reach to the end of the world, with a voice louder than any words.

Don’t get me wrong—I love words. I love reading and writing, I love listening to and telling stories. I hope to hear each of your stories, and hope you will get to know mine. But I also know that no matter how hard I try, words are just not going to work for everything. A lot of the time, it’s important that we just be with God together. There are times when wordless love pours out from God and through us. There will also be times we find ourselves together doing both mundane and memorable things—and we will do them with love and those actions will speak the gospel to us and to others, even if we never talk about more than the weather. In our being and our doing, we can and will proclaim the love and glory of God together, just as the Creation does.

Just like the heavens and the day and night, we were created to tell the glory of a God who is beyond our language, beyond our understanding, beyond us—and yet who knows us and loves us more than words can express. Proclaim that gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.
(NW: pray) Amen.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

8 days in New England

tonight's our last night in Boston. In the last 8 days, I've been to Massachussetts , Rhode Island, and Connecticut. In no particular order: I've driven along the length of Cape Cod in a convertible and visited Provincetown. I've been to Nantucket and seen all the rich people's summer homes. I've been to two whaling museums--New Bedford and Nantucket. I've walked the "Freedom Trail" and visited Paul Revere's house and the Old North Church where he hung lanterns and even his grave. I've sailed in Boston Harbor, dumped tea leaves in said Boston harbor, docked near the USS Constitution, and visited the Constitution, along with the Mayflower II and the Charles Morgan whaling ship. I saw Plymouth Rock. I visited a cheesy witch museum in Salem. I've had several excellent meals--italian, italian, and italian...sandwiches, pizza, pasta, risotto, ice cream ice cream ice cream! I've made a four-year-old friend. I've been lost, read lots of maps, steered a sailboat, gone to a yacht club, and hung out in Boston's North End which is basically Little Italy. I've seen model boats on sale for thousands of dollars. I've stood directly under the mouth of a whale skeleton. I've learned all about whaling, getting oil from whales, making that oil into candles, and getting rich. I've hung out with my family, sometimes fun and sometimes stressful. I've visited Walden Pond and seen where Thoreau's house used to be. I've stood on the green where the "Shot heard round the world" was fired in Lexington. I've sat on the "neck" of Marblehead and looked at the big houses. I've witnessed my brother's first visit to the Atlantic.

less fun:
At Plimoth Plantation I bought some cranberry scone mix. I made the scones yesterday morning before we went sailing, put them in a bag and into the food bag. By the time we arrived at the boat, though, they'd been crushed by the fruit into crumbs. I am so sad! I worked hard on those things--the dough was really sticky--and no one even got to eat them except me. boo.

cool souvenirs:
I bought a cool pen today--a glass pen with six colors of ink. The kind of pen you dip into the ink and write with, old style. neat.

on the Freedom Trail I got a "Disappearing Civil Liberties" mug where the Bill of Rights disappears when you put a hot beverage in, and also authentic "Boston Tea Party Tea" imported from the same company that sold the tea for that famous day.

I have keychains from everywhere except Rhode Island.

Funny moments:
My brother reads really fast and when he reads signs out loud he often misreads--it's hilarious. We pulled up at Friendlys, which had a special on "Featured Chicken Entrees" and he said "Feathered chicken entrys?" At Mystic Seaport there's a little boat on an exhibit and it's called the "Patsy Green" and he said "Pasty green? what kind of name is that?" We are still talking about these and laughing like crazy!

kinda scary:
We've been driving through the "Big Dig" tunnel where a ceiling panel fell down and crushed a woman recently.

Sailboats tip really far to one side, and while I never thought the boat would tip, there were moments when I thought I might fall out--especially when I was using both hands to eat and had none free to hold on.

we were lost coming home from Nantucket when dad realized that we had forgotten to get gas in Hyannis. Between Hyannis and...well...somewhere far away from there, there's no town. So we drove all around looking for a town with a gas station, with the car beeping telling us we'd better hurry up and get gas already, for about 40 minutes. We ended up back in Hyannis.

News:
my counter to the seller's counter offer for my condo was accepted and it's now under contract. Woohoo! Now we're down to some formalities about the inspection and the paperwork for a mortgage.

the Blackhawk Presbytery meeting I have to be examined at is Tuesday. I'm totally anxious and a little creeped out.

Assuming the Presbytery meeting goes well, I'll be preaching next weekend and the congregational meeting will be Sunday the 17th. Hopefully that'll go well too!

it's my bedtime. :-)

Friday, September 01, 2006

checking in

well, we have internet at my dad's friend's house in Boston, so here are the thing you all MUST know!

--I met with the CPM and COM of blackhawk presbytery. they heard me preach and extensively examined me. Then they said that I was recommended for examination for ordination. SO: I'm scheduled for a September 12 presbytery meeting. I'm nervous, but trying not to think too much about it right now. Assuming the meeting on the 12th goes well, my "candidate weekend" is the 16th/17th, with three services to preach and a congregational meeting/vote to live through. It's all good, right? :-)

--I looked at 11 properties over two days, and found MY HOUSE. It's a condo in the center of town (not downtown, but the actual geographic center of town). Near parks. quiet neighborhood. two bedrooms and two bathrooms. kitchen with stainless appliances. balcony. beautiful complex lawn. I made an offer today. Now I just have to wait and see what they'll say. I hope they say yes, and then that the inspection goes well...and then the proposed closing date is October 3. How exciting! :-)

--I just saw a commercial for the new show "standoff" and noticed that Zoe from Firefly is in it but her hair is STRAIGHT! What a tragedy for her and her hair. She's still beautiful, though.

--Boston's aiport parking and whatnot is confusing. The southern suburbs where we're staying lack good street signage. But this house is incredible--colonial, of course, and cute, and with some great custom painting done by dad's friend and his fam.

--wild mushroom and asiago cheese pizza is really good.

--tomorrow we're off to Mystic. Of course it's supposed to rain during the weekend while we've rented a PT CRUISER CONVERTIBLE!!! I hope it's sunny at least a little bit, cuz we deserve to put that top down!

--Apparently there's early leaving involved in this "vacation" so I should be in bed. goodnight.