Monday, April 30, 2007

stuff

I am feeling frustrated right now but can't blog about it.

Instead I will blog about the 30 Hour Famine!

7 youth participated and we had a great time. Oh, we were hungry. And there were times of extreme tiredness, especially as Saturday afternoon wore on. But overall, it was great! We had Bible Studies about hunger and about fasting and about temptation. We had temptation experiences. We drank quite a bit of juice...

We gathered 70 pounds of food during a 1-1/2 hour food pantry scavenger hunt, and we took it to the Crystal Lake Food Pantry. Good times!

Then came the mean part...around noon on Saturday, the 24 hour mark, we took the youth to the grocery store and had them try to feed their "family" (one group was three and one was four) for a week on the weekly food stamp allotment for their size family. It was tough, but they think they did it. I'm not sure they actually did--I think they might have been hungry around day 5 or so--but they definitely gave it a good effort, and they learned about how hard it is to be poor in our area. They also learned about grocery shopping when they were both hungry and on a restrictive budget.

We talked a lot about how we use food in this culture not to meet our needs but to take the edge off our boredom. If there's food around, we'll eat it--not because we're hungry, but because it's there and there's nothing else keeping our hands busy. We discovered that we were hungriest during the times we didn't have any activities planned. We also discovered that watching a movie with no snacks is brutal.

Everyone who participated met the fundraising goal (and then some) so we raised enough money to feed 8 children for a year and 1 for half the year. Excellent!

It was great.

Friday, April 27, 2007

busy again

back from vacation, finally. (I only waited 9 hours at JFK...oy)

Note to self: do not come back from vacation one day before major event at church. It results in lots of work to do very quickly.

Thirty Hour Famine starts in one hour. Many thanks to all of you who helped me reach my fundraising goal! Now I just need prayers not to be irritable when I get hungry....

...and for the kids, ditto.

Must make shopping list for the afternoon event....ta!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

JFK update

time arrived inside the airport at JFK from Richmond: 11.20
time connecting flight was supposed to leave: 1.20
time previous flight to Chicago left: 11.25
time I discovered connection was canceled: 11.21
time of flight I was rebooked on: 4.20
time that flight is currently delayed to: 8.30
arrival time, assuming flight actually goes when they say it will: 10.30
time of last shuttle bus from O'Hare to Crystal Lake: 10.00
time spent in JFK so far: 7 hours 6 minutes

teenagers arrived in airport for trip to Florida: about 100.
where they are hanging out: everywhere
number of teens seen with beer bottles: 5

bottles of water consumed: 2
quesadillas eaten: 1
milkshakes drunk: 1
pizzas smelled: 100000000002
phone calls made/taken: 4
number of times email checked: 200
power outlets found for computer: 0
complete books started and finished: 1
number of books in bookstore not already read by me: 7
number of quality books in bookstore not already read by me: 0
Dr. Peppers to be found in this airport: 0
dinner options: about 15

irritation level, on a scale of 1-10: 7.5

In random news, today is my baptism day. I was baptized on April 25 1999--8 years ago. and now I'm a pastor. what an interesting turn of events! that's all that's keeping me from raising my irritation level significantly. Because, you see, baptism anniversary means new outfit--which I am wearing, and it is cute. So there.

I must go check the screen again to see whether they've further delayed my flight. That would really make my day. I bet this wouldn't be happening if I'd bought the pope hat. Just saying.

liveblogging the JFK international Food Hall scene

Vacation was great.
Getting home is less great: left Richmond no problem. Arrived JFK no problem. Found out connection was canceled...small problem. Found out next flight was also canceled. Bigger problem. Discovered wait for "the next flight that probably won't be canceled" would be 5 hours though I was standing at the just-closing door of a flight leaving for ORD right then....well, less than a thrill.

So now I'm in the food court in the main jetBlue terminal. JFK is not my fave airport--it's old looking, could use paint and cleaning and general sprucing along with some adjustments to layout and internal traffic pattern. However, this food court, labeled "international food hall" has cheeseburgers (eew), pizza, a deli with Boar's head meat (eew) and cheese (yum!), mexican, asian, american comfort food, salad, and "papaya king"--an unknown entity. That's a pretty good selection for a girl who will be sitting here for a while. And props to jetBlue for the free wireless! a little slow, but free!

People here do not seem to be in any kind of hurry. There's a different feel than at O'Hare, where people rush around, talking on cell phones, making irritated faces at the people in front of them in the spacious terminals, and queuing anxiously at the gate many minutes before their section is called. At O'Hare, people give the impression of being important and having serious "places to go and things to do! Now!" Here it's much more relaxed. Very few cell phones. No rushing. Not a lot of rollerboard bags. I can see several gates from my seat and there are no anxious queues. There's also less overhead-announcement things going on, which is great since I'm sitting basically right under a loudspeaker. They're playing ABBA right now, but not too loudly. I love ABBA. :-)

This morning at the Richmond airport I actually thought I might have something to blog about, but I didn't have time. Now I can't remember it.

On this vacation I did not do a good job of not working. I checked my church email a couple of times a day. I sent agenda items for the session meeting. I thought about church stuff. I made notes about potential new ideas/programs/ministries/studies and re-vamps of existing stuff. I spent some minutes in anxiety about my confirmation class. I called in a couple of times--but in my defense, one of those times was RE a pope hat I saw at a toy store! It was fantastic. Looked excellent on me. I had visions of all the ways I could use it in youth and children's programming, not to mention the sheer coolness of wearing it in my office. But my rational brain kicked in long enough for me to call the church office to find out if they thought people in our heavily ex-catholic upper-midwestern community might be offended.

I did not buy the pope hat. I was informed that it was not a good plan. but I'm a little sad.



let's see...nothing new to report from the food court. So I guess that's over-and-out for me, for now.

I hope I get home tonight. I miss my kitties.

update: Papaya King is smoothies and hot dogs. The cheeseburger place also has milkshakes. I had Mexican. There's something so tasty about a cheese quesadilla with refried beans on top--I don't know why, but it's better than a burrito. The melty cheese, I guess.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

my next-to-last plea...

Thanks to the several of you who have helped me out with the 30 Hour Famine! You're helping feed hungry children AND saving me from the embarrassment of being the one who doesn't reach the fundraising goal....(this embarrassment involves challenges, activities, and a hat during the lock-in...please keep helping me!).

I have $145 to go to meet my goal of feeding a child for a whole year. Can you help?
The Famine is this Friday!!

Thanks!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Woodrow Wilson

I have just come from visiting the Woodrow Wilson Museum/library/birthplace. It's quite a good museum, actually. The birthplace is still furnished as it was then--complete with a "very modern stove" and with the gorgeous handpainted china of a Staunton family (not the Wilson's, but a family that lived nearby during the same time).

Woodrow Wilson is, according to my tour guide, our most educated president to date--he actually earned his doctorate.

Woodrow Wilson's father was a Presbyterian minister who served here in Staunton for a few years before being called to Augusta, GA. (among other places)

Woodrow Wilson's mother was the daughter of a Scottish Presbyterian minister.

How did he escape?

I bought a keychain, of course.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

more dots

I'm on vacation. I don't have to write in complete sentences or coherent paragraphs. So there.
  • I love Buffy.
  • I also love Dr. Pepper.
  • I walked all over Amy's town yesterday. It was fun and lovely. I actually got a little sun on my arms--weird! And about time.
  • I read In an Instant, the book by Lee and Bob Woodruff about Bob being blown up and getting better. It was really good.
  • Now I'm reading Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. I don't agree with all the theology, but some of it is good. Plus the author is witty. I approve of wittiness.
  • Today we had a picnic dinner in a local park. So fun!
  • Did you know that Breyer's has Fried Ice Cream flavored ice cream now? and that it tastes just like fried ice cream? it is so good...yum. I am going to be fat when I get home just from eating ice cream.
  • Amy lives four doors down from the Woodrow Wilson museum/birthplace/presidential library. I am going to visit tomorrow.
  • I want to walk more places. I am going to try to figure out if I can reasonably walk to downtown Crystal Lake when I get home, assuming the weather cooperates.
  • I don't want to go home yet. Granted, I'm not going home until Wednesday, but still. I feel like vacation is too short. I want to stay longer and just relax in this cute town. But the 30 Hour Famine calls me. I still need sponsors--my kids are doing great with their fundraising but I have no sponsors! None! help!
  • Tomorrow night I will miss a session meeting. Oh darn.
  • When I am with Amy, I don't get many phone calls. It seems that she is the main person I talk to on the phone these days. But she's right here, so no need to talk on the phone.
  • It's Shakespeare's birthday. We went to the theater to see A Midsummer Night's Dream on Friday night. It was pretty good. A little odd...the fairy costumes were bizarre. We were sitting onstage, which was awesome. Oberon took my sunglasses off my head and wore them for a scene, which was funny. Anyway...yeah. Happy birthday, Will. :-) There's a celebration going on tonight at the theater, which is about a one minute walk from Amy's house...yes, she lives in the middle of a small town which is quite cool, why do you ask?
  • I miss my kitties. amy's kitties are cute, the same breeds as mine, and with similar personalities (or at least similar habits!). Anyanka, who is the same type of cat as Andrew, has been sleeping on my pillow, just like Andrew does. It drives me crazy when she does it too.
  • I must go to bed! I have a full day tomorrow! There are books to read, walking to do, Wilson library to visit, Jane Eyre to watch, kitties to play with, naps to take, food to eat, and a house to visit with Amy (she's looking into buying a house). my my I will be busy on my vacation Monday!

Friday, April 20, 2007

dots of vacation

  • colloquium was pretty good. weather was excellent. Seeing Jason and saying goodbye, less than excellent.
  • no books read yet...but soon!
  • VA Tech tragedy=crappy. prayers for the students and faculty and families...
  • However, I love being on vacation.
  • It's sunny and warm.
  • Amy's town is adorable.
  • Her cats are also adorable.
  • Her office is WAY bigger than mine. What is that all about?
  • Her house is twice the size of mine. I don't know what I would do with all this space. She doesn't either--it's kind of echo-ey and empty-ish. But gorgeous and old and wonderful...yeah.
  • I don't have to do anything except get some stuff in next week's church newsletter.
  • Tonight we are going to a play. woohoo!
  • 'puter battery almost dead...must find plug...

Friday, April 13, 2007

from amy with love

once again, seen at amy's...and of course I follow...yeah. What's funny about this to me is that I was kind of being one of those ironic/snarky types when I answered the questions...and it came out pretty much right. Especially the first two sentences...hmm...









You’re St. Melito of Sardis!


You have a great love of history and liturgy. You’re attached to the traditions of the ancients, yet you recognize that the old world — great as it was — is passing away. You are loyal to the customs of your family, though you do not hesitate to call family members to account for their sins.


Find out which Church Father you are at The Way of the Fathers!





to-do..update!

Here's what's left now that the "week before vacation" is down to the "two and a half days before vacation"...with commentary, of course

Things to do the now-less-than-a-week before vacation:

2. Get ready for 30 Hour Famine, which is the weekend after I get back! Want to help me reach my goal of feeding a child for a whole year? Donate here! Well, I don't know how ready I really should be, but I do know that I have a whole day and and half between vacation and the start of the Famine, so that's plenty of time to plan, right?

5. get ready for Youth Sunday (this Sunday!) well, things are ready--there's just the rehearsal tonight...and then I just have to let it go....

6. clean office. okay, at least TIDY office. Perhaps even simply "find desk." I found it, but it got lost again. dang.

7. clean house so other people can go in there to look after my kitties! I decided it was dumb to do this before the last minute because it would just get dirty again. But I did run the dishwasher--and empty it too! (my least favorite task)

11. pack
12. re-pack, planning for "just in case I can't check my luggage because of the time" with toiletries.
13. re-pack, with the things I forgot this time (pajamas, contacts, etc)

15. orient downstairs neighbor to house and cats...and strange cat behavior. I really should get on this...

19. pay bills...assuming they come before I leave. they came, but I haven't paid them yet. Tonight.
20. pay taxes (ugh). Picked up stuff today. Mailing tomorrow. still kinda bitter.

21. go to 4 meetings, three rehearsals, and a visioning event. Now just one rehearsal and the visioning thing, plus two worship services, a brunch, and confirmation class to go.

23. play with kitties a whole bunch so they don't hate me when I'm gone. This task will never be finished...

Why don't I feel like I've accomplished much? oy....

Thursday, April 12, 2007

freud, are you in there?

Bunches of my youth are spelling confirmation "conformation."
It's funny and not funny at the same time, since the expressed purpose of the class is to help teens continue to grow into "thoughtful Christians who are part of a Presbyterian faith community"--not to create cookie cutter Presbys.
And yet...conformation.
hmm....

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

loss

my song of solomon 2:16 (a) ring has gone into a drawer. it's not true anymore.
there's been a ring on that finger since summer 2004 (first a Greek eternity ring, then the hebrew song of solomon one)--day and night, home and work and gym and bed...
my finger has the ring in it--I can see the outline when I move my finger.
but it feels naked.
I miss it.
I debated about posting this and decided to go ahead. It might come down later. We'll see.

justice or politics?

I've been thinking lately about justice and politics and church.

Lots of people think that justice is what God is all about--and that God's justice is different (as in, goes a lot farther) than our usual civic vision of justice. God's Justice isn't about punishment fitting a crime, it isn't about being "fair." it's about overturning the world order and letting the last be first, about lifting the needy and bringing down the haughty. It doesn't even seem really like it's bringing the needy up and the haughty down so they're equal...it's reversal.

Anyway, that's not the point. The point is that these people who talk about God's justice are often unwilling to talk about it in any specific way. We can't talk in church about politics, apparently, so talking about justice in relation to current world events (or even neighborhood events) is taboo--making it hard to talk about things like Iraq, Israel/Palestine, homelessness, hunger, refugees....because all of those are political issues. Yes, they are justice issues, but they're controversial political issues too. The fact that the prophets and Jesus talk about these things (and were horribly unpopular, and were often killed for their words), and that they said things like "you government are crap for treating people this way or allowing these things to happen and God is not happy about that" or things like "we need to do something about this"...that fact doesn't seem to matter.

I'm concerned that we talk vaguely (or historically) about justice so much that we risk making the word meaningless by refusing (or being too afraid) to talk about it more specifically. What does justice mean with no context? How can we talk about justice and refuse to talk about refugees or hungry people? How can we talk about justice for all God's people and then refuse to engage political issues?

I'm not saying we should tell people what to think, how to vote, or anything like that. I'm not saying that we can presume to speak for God.
But I am saying that the thought of constantly dancing around the issues because we're afraid to speak the word causes me to pause and wonder what justice really means and how we talk about it in the church.

That's all. Not eloquent (I had something more eloquent in my head on Monday, but before I could write it some other things happened and all those eloquent words left my brain) but it's what I've been thinking about and what I wanted to say. At least basically.

winter wonderland

it's snowing.
a lot.
and then more.
it's wet and heavy, it's windy, it's getting colder, the roads are nasty.

I do not approve.

It's after Easter, people!

Although, this kind of weather makes more obvious the point from the Christian Century column for Easter Sunday--the fact that Easter comes in spring when everything is renewing and coming back to life makes us vulnerable to thinking that resurrection is part of the natural order, and it's just not. Here we are--mid-April, post-resurrection, and the world is white and cold and dead. But not Jesus!

That's all the thinking I can do for today. It's cold and nasty and it's spring--and that's making me sleepy and brain-tired. So I guess I'll try to do some work....

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

faith

"Faith is believing that one of two things will happen: That there will be something solid for you to stand on--or that you will be taught to fly."

indeed.
He couldn't, or wouldn't, or didn't want to, and I did (apparently I always do).
He is the thinker, the rationalist, of us. I'm the impulsive one, doing things when they feel right rather than thinking everything through first.
and that led to a geographical distance problem and a communication problem.
Apparently insurmountable.
And now there is no us.
And I am sad.

But there will either be something solid to stand on, or I'll be taught to fly. I'm waiting to find out which.

In the meantime, I've accomplished approximately 4 and 15/56ths of the items on yesterday's list. (half each of 1, 3, and 5, 1/7 of 23, 1/8 of 21, and all of 9, 17, and 18.) It could be worse. Still 6 more days to go. No problem. :-)

Gotta go work on 1 and 6!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Thanks Amy...this made my day...

Monday, April 09, 2007

the week before vacation

Things to do the week before vacation:
1. Finish up Confirmation Lesson Plans for the next two weeks (not to mention this week!)
2. Get ready for 30 Hour Famine, which is the weekend after I get back! Want to help me reach my goal of feeding a child for a whole year? Donate here!
3. write tons of emails
4. schedule more youth fundraisers
5. get ready for Youth Sunday (this Sunday!)
6. clean office. okay, at least TIDY office. Perhaps even simply "find desk."
7. clean house so other people can go in there to look after my kitties!
8. do laundry, probably three times
9. bring cat food up from garage
10. arrange for someone to pick me up when I get home so my car doesn't have to sit at the Holiday Inn for 10 days all by itself
11. pack
12. re-pack, planning for "just in case I can't check my luggage because of the time" with toiletries.
13. re-pack, with the things I forgot this time (pajamas, contacts, etc)
14. go buy travel size toiletries, as I used them all on the last several trips
15. orient downstairs neighbor to house and cats...and strange cat behavior
16. get key to house copied so downstairs neighbor can have one and I can still keep one at church
17. find place to stay while on first part of vacation
18. arrange transport from airport in ATL
19. pay bills...assuming they come before I leave
20. pay taxes (ugh)
21. go to 4 meetings, three rehearsals, and a visioning event
22. talk to personal trainer RE exercising when traveling, so as not to undo all previous progress during 10 days of binge eating at fave restaurants.
23. play with kitties a whole bunch so they don't hate me when I'm gone.

I think that's quite enough...though I'm sure I've forgotten something. (see number
13!)

It's quite a week...

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter Prayer

We come running to the tomb this morning, O God,
breathless with fear and excitement.
The stone is gone, and Jesus is not there,
and we do not know what to do.

Will we simply go home, saying nothing?
Will we stay at the tomb and weep?
Will we go and tell the others?
Will we be surprised with a new grief, or a new joy?

On this Easter morning,
when you have made the world different,
we do not know what to say or where to find you…

and then you appear,
calling us by name
and sending us on a new journey.

Meet us here again this Easter,
call our names,
and we will answer
with alleluias long silent.

Thank you for bringing our alleluias back to life,
Thank you for this morning of newness,
thank you for the power of life over death,
thank you for bringing joy to overcome our fear,
thank you for your words of peace and love.
Amen.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday Reflections

Eight years ago tonight i was in my dorm room at DePaul talking to my mom on the phone, having just attended my first ever Good Friday service. At Fourth Presbyterian Church the evening of Good Friday is a service in which the choir presents a choral service...that year it was the Poulenc Stabat Mater. I had gone to fulfill a concert attendance requirement and because I'd been invited by friends. My then-boyfriend also invited me to Easter, but I had so far refused. On the phone, my mom said "I just came from church too!"--she had been to hear a friend sing in the choir. When I told her about my Easter dilemma, she said words I never expected to hear: "You should go. Relationships are about compromise." I don't think she knew what she was getting into.

I went on Easter.
The next week, I went back.
And the week after that.
I went to an Inquirer's class.
I talked extensively with a pastor.
I joined the church (by baptism and profession of faith) on April 25.

It's been a long journey in 8 years....from just going to hyper-involvement in the church through stints in Scotland on to seminary and then to Egypt and now I'm a pastor in the suburbs of my favorite American city. I've had three other boyfriends (counting the current one!) since then. Both my great-grandmothers and my mother, (and all my goldfish) have died since then. I've lived in 7 different apartments/houses since then. I've gained new friends and lost some friends, both through distance and to death. I've gained two cats. My life has changed drastically from clarinet-filled to church-filled, but music is always still around. I'm a "real grownup" now--I've bought a house and a car, I have a job, I pay bills and taxes, I worry about my cats. Eight years ago I just went to a service. Now I lead the service...thinking about microphones and whether I'm tall enough to blow out the 5th candle and taking the few minutes afterward to discuss with the senior pastor which white stole to wear on Easter morning. Eight years ago, I went to church with two friends to hear a "concert." Now I go to church alone and yet in a wonderful community...though a community of church-friends, not what I would call "regular friends." the music is still wonderful. The main difference, the one that makes the day hard? No talking to mom afterward, being surprised and wondering what tricks she's got up her sleeve next, what new thing she has done for a friend, what new boundary that I've always taken for granted she's crossed today. And I miss her.

Sunday morning we'll proclaim the incredible good news that God has triumphed over death. But people still die, and they don't come back. The last prayer/meditation from our service tonight, addressing a Jesus who has breathed his last, says something about those who've gone...something like "tell them that we miss them, they are not forgotten." Well, that's true.

It's also true what Walter Brueggemann says about Christians being a Saturday people. We proclaim this news that death has no sting and no power, except it still does. We wait, in the in-between place, the Saturday place, the place between earth and heaven, the place between our reality and God's kingdom, the place between death and new life.

I hate waiting.
(I also love the Princess Bride...)

So this Good Friday, when it's almost late enough to be Saturday, when I'm getting ready to sleep before tomorrow's Easter Egg Hunt (odd for that waiting, that Holy Quiet Saturday), this is what I am thinking about....that Good Friday 8 years ago, when things were different, and how the journey has changed me and how the world has changed and where the journey might be taking me next.

ugh

I don't know how much more of the "politicians saying ridiculous things" phenomenon I can handle. I know it's hardly a new phenomenon, but still. In the same week the President has said that we are trying to help the Middle East "join the civilized world" and the former Speaker of the House Mr. Gingrich has said that we should stop bilingual education in our schools because Spanish is the "language of living in the ghetto" and his so-called-apology says he really just meant that English is the language of prosperity. oh my, that's better.
I think that's quite enough for this week, don't you? I prefer the Week to be filled with words such as "love one another as I have loved you" and "on a night like this..." and "he is risen!" I would even rather hear "it is finished" than some of the things I've heard on television and radio this week.

It's Holy Week...the week when we remember, when we celebrate, when we mourn, when we share, when we live and love because someone else lived for us and loved us first. It's hard to reconcile the messages of this week...which may be because that's not what it's about. This week is about victory, about triumph. Not victory over other people, not triumph of our way of life or way of thinking over someone else's...triumph of life and love over sin and death. And that is good news, even in a world that seems...well...like a lot of things I probably shouldn't write in a public place.

Holy Friday to all...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

30 Hour Famine

Our senior high youth are participating in WorldVisions 30-Hour-Famine at the end of April. Between now and then, we are collecting sponsors to help feed hungry people. Last year the youth and their leaders--600,000 of them in 21 countries--raised enough money to feed 29,000 children (the number who die each day from hunger and hunger-related preventable disease) for a WHOLE YEAR. That's pretty awesome, and we're excited to be part of it.

If you would like to help our youth group meet our goal of feeding 10 kids (one for each of us participating in the famine) for a year, you can sponsor me by clicking here! All the money goes straight to WorldVision, and most of it then goes to feed people. None of the money stays here or goes to us. We'll be fasting 30 hours on April 27-28, and the money we save on snacks/food for the lock in will be added to our total as well.

Please help us help others by donating! Here's the link again, in case you need to copy and paste: http://www.firstgiving.com/rclpc.

Thanks!

"core stories"--a second, and frankly better, meditation for Maundy Thursday

I wrote this the hour before the service (with a little copying/pasting from the one below, written yesterday). I like it so much more than the other one, so this is what actually happened. The service was awesome--a Middle Eastern dinner, lots of fun and fellowship, some great music...it was wonderful.

Rev. Teri Peterson
Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church
core stories
John 15.12-17
April 5 2007—Maundy Thursday

‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.'

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

This week 17 confirmands, 3 other adults, and I went to visit the synagogue just down the street. This week, you see, is Passover, and the synagogue was hosting a seder dinner, to which we were invited. A seder is a full meal with lots of rituals, and this one had some fun parts too. There was the usual: the shankbone, horseradish, roasted egg, parsley dipped in saltwater, and four cups of wine—accompanied by lots of prayers and readings in Hebrew. There was also the highly unusual: a song about the ten plagues sung to the tune of the Addams Family theme song and a Passover Hokey Pokey performed by some of the men of the congregation. There was tons of food and great fellowship, lots of talking and singing and playing. It was a true celebration—as it should be, since the celebration of the Passover is the celebration and remembering of the defining event of Jewish history, the central part of their identity as Jewish people. God brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and into a good land, God made the people into community and gave them a story and a future.

I like to imagine that the seder Jesus was sharing with his friends during Passover so long ago was a lively party like the one we participated in two nights ago. I like to think there was singing and good food, lots of conversation, and some fun. Probably no Addams Family Plague songs, but maybe some poems or some spirited psalm singing, maybe some joking around during the meal. It was a celebration, after all! What kind of celebration party is it if there’s no fun to be had?

That night Jesus while Jesus was celebrating the core story of his people, as host he had some things he got to say. Among them were these words: You are my friends—not my servants, not my followers, my friends. And then this: This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

This isn’t quite what the story of the Passover is about…I can imagine the disciples—sorry, the friends—being unsure what to say to that. Of course the highest form of love is the self-sacrificing, giving-without-expectation-of-reward love. There’s nothing else to give than one’s life. This is not touchy feely Elephant Love Medley love, this is not red roses and pink hearts. This kind of love, Jesus’ love for us, is love, the verb. This is love, the action. This is love, the boundary-crossing, hand-dirtying, DOing, and even dying, way—not just a warm fuzzy feeling.

This is love that gets down on the floor and washes feet, that touches lepers, that eats with sinners, that spends itself for enemies as well as friends, that goes to where gritty life is lived and breaks itself open for the world. This is love that lays itself and its bearer on the line, exposed, vulnerable…and full. This kind of love is a little different than just another silly love song. This is love that gives and also calls. Jesus doesn’t just say “I love you,” he says “love one another the way I have loved you.” He doesn’t just give, he doesn’t just love, he doesn’t just pull us close to his heart, he calls.

This is love that breaks bread and pours wine, that hosts a dinner party for every one of God’s children, that calls us out into the world to live like the beloved people we are. By hosting this party, by laying down his life for his friends, Jesus gives us a new chapter in the core story. Once our Israelite ancestors were slaves in Egypt, and God did many mighty deeds of power and brought them out into a good and plentiful land. Once we were slaves to sin and death, and God sent his son to teach us how to live and how to love, and then saved us from our slavery with an act of power—power first made perfect in weakness, then power that triumphs even over death.

There is no greater love than this—to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Because we have known such love, we too can love.

Thanks be to God, and may it be so.
Amen.

Followed immediately by a soloist singing/playing "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

"love, love, love"--a meditation for Maundy Thursday

it's not great, but I'm okay with it for now. It's about half the length of one of Richard's average sermons, so...7 minutes? I think that's plenty. It's really a dinner party, not a listen-to-Teri-party!

Rev. Teri Peterson
Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church
love, love, love
John 15.12-17
5 April 2007—Maundy Thursday

Jesus said:
‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

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

I am sure we have all heard these words, or words like them, a hundred times. “Love one another.” “Love your neighbor.” “Love your enemy.” “The greatest of these is love.” And then there’s “All you need is love” and “I will always love you” and “love lifts us up where we belong.”

Love is a word that we toss around freely—we love pizza, American Idol, ice cream, our new cars, our friends, our churches, our families, ourselves, and maybe even Jesus. We use the word “love” in a thousand different ways and yet when we think about “love” we almost always think simply of romantic love. Sometimes I wonder if the word has lost its meaning completely—if we love our neighbor, love one another, love God, and love mashed potatoes all the same way.

I was reading recently about the development of the myth that in “Eskimo” there is a preponderance of words for snow. The myth runs anywhere from 7 words to about 400…but it’s just a myth. In the two main language groups of the native people in the Arctic areas, there are a mere 2 words that actually simply designate whether snow is still in the air or on the ground, and if you use all the variations, it might reach 24 but that’s actually rather generous . Similarly, there are 4 Greek words for love, which designate different kinds of love…but sometimes they overlap, and we translate all of them in English as “love” without regard to the nuances.

Here in this speech, and throughout this section of John’s gospel, Jesus uses the word “love” liberally—rather like 21st century Americans! But the word he uses for love isn’t Moulin Rouge Elephant Love Medley love. And though he uses the word “friend” over and over, he doesn’t us the word for friendly or brotherly affection and care either. The word Jesus uses is agape, the self-sacrificing, giving without expectation of reward, Aslan-going-to-the-Witch-so-Edward-can-stay-with-his-brother-and-sisters love. No wonder Jesus says there is no greater love than this—to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. There is literally nothing else to give than life. When Jesus says “love,” we see that this is love, the verb. This is love, the action. This is love, the boundary-crossing, hand-dirtying, DOing, and even dying, way—not just a warm fuzzy feeling.

This kind of love is a little different than just another silly love song. And Jesus doesn’t just say “I love you,” he says “love one another the way I have loved you.” He doesn’t just give, he doesn’t just love, he doesn’t just pull us close to his heart, he calls.

Jesus says we are his friends—not his servants, not his followers, not even his disciples—his friends. As long as we follow the commandment—to love one another—we are friends of the Lord But this friendship isn’t just about our feelings. It is about being called. By naming us his friends, Jesus draws us into his circle and shares himself with us. By naming us his friends, Jesus also calls us to share him, and to share ourselves, with others through love—not just with love songs and sappy hallmark cards, either. This is no monochromatic love. This is love that gets down on the floor and washes feet, that touches lepers, that eats with sinners, that spends itself for enemies as well as friends, that goes to where gritty life is lived and breaks itself open for the world. This is love that lays itself and its bearer on the line, exposed, vulnerable…and full. This is love that gives and also calls. This is love that breaks bread and pours wine, that hosts a dinner party for every one of God’s children, that calls us out into the world to live like the beloved people we are. There is no greater love than this—to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Because we have known such love, we too can love.
Thanks be to God, and may it be so.
Amen.

(immediately followed by "Bridge Over Troubled Water" in a new arrangement by one of our resident acoustic guitar players.)

what happened to spring?

it's snowing.

it was 70 degrees yesterday. Now it's 26 degrees.

It's been grey and nasty (and raining) for two weeks, but at least it wasn't cold. Now it's grey and nasty and SNOWING. forecast for Easter Sunday? snow. no accumulation, just flurries, but honestly...come on. it was spring, and now it's not. It's like some evil plan to jerk us around--get our hopes up after the bitterly cold winter, only to dash them in the snow again. ugh.

Having said that, keep reading below for info on our 30 Hour Famine. I'm cold, but they're starving. please help!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

dots of Holy Week

  • listening to the President's press conferences makes me angry. I really can't listen to too much or it makes me crazy. The last thing he said in his press conference today involved the word "civilization" RE us and not "them"--I could not believe my ears. Except I could. sad.
  • I love Holy Week.
  • I love Holy Week more when I don't have to preach in the middle of it.
  • I love Holy Week even more when the Senior Pastor isn't sick during it, causing me extreme anxiety RE Easter Sunday's sermon. (the rest of his family is better already but for some reason his illness is hanging on.)
  • I am taking the Confirmation Class to a Seder at the synagogue next door tonight. This should be exciting.
  • But probably not veggie friendly, which means I need a snack.
  • I was so excited about Passover actually falling during Holy Week....but that was way back in the day, before I knew I'd have to write a Maundy Thursday meditation. Now it just feels like another thing I have to do. But I know it will be great.
  • Ditto the people elsewhere who have mentioned that there seem to be a lot more sales calls this week than usual--what is UP with that? We're a church, people! We're kind of busy. Our admin hangs up on any call that is computer-generated or that begins with "hi, I'm from _______ (someplace we've never heard of or that we don't generally do business with)." While it seems horribly unChristian, she does it anyway and it really cuts down the time she spends on the phone. In theory.
  • I don't like thunderstorms. We had a HUGE one last night and this morning. I got very little sleep. My cats also were a little freaked out.
  • speaking of cats, mine are insane. In case you were wondering.
  • Is anyone else slightly intrigued by the CNN AC360 special this week (Wed. and Thurs. night 10pmEastern) called "What is a Christian?" I kind of want to watch it just to see. What are we, according to the news media?
  • I'm hungry....snack time is upon us.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Easter in Palestine...

This is a statement by Palestinian Christian NGOs "Ahead of Easter." This issue, these people, and this area is dear to me. Please pray for the Christians in this area, as this is a particularly frustrating and dangerous time.

~~~~

"We are about to welcome the Easter season after forty days of fasting. To us, Easter is a reminder of the suffering, crucifixion, and most importantly, the resurrection of Jesus. In our Land, traditional celebrations have been taking place for centuries, such as the processions of local communities, scouts, participating in Palm Sunday, and Saturday of the Holy Fire celebrations from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

"Processions and traditional celebrations are governed by the Status Quo over the course of many years. Such celebrations have been taking placed uninterrupted. However, in the last few years the Occupation authorities are impeding the celebrations, especially the Saturday of the Holy Fire celebrations of the Orthodox Church. The Occupation authorities are preventing worshipers from reaching the Church of the Holy Sepulcher or celebrating in the yard on the roof top of the Church, and are preventing the traditional joyful celebration march and the procession of the banners.

"Easter celebrations are hostage to the whims of the Occupation authorities, as part of policies that are racist and that aim to push Christians to immigrate. The Occupation authorities are imposing strict restrictions on the movement of Christians during Easter week, and are preventing Christians from reaching the churches, and are adopting a policy that prevents Palestinian Christians from other parts of the West Bank from reaching Jerusalem to celebrate Easter. Also, barriers are put near the gates of the old city of Jerusalem, especially in the area leading to the Christian quarter, Herod’s Gate, and the roads leading to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in order to deny worshipers their right to pray freely. A new phenomena now, is the huge presence of Israeli police inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher with their weapons, which violates the sanctity of the Church and religious traditions.

"Therefore, we, members of the Christian community in Jerusalem, are calling upon our fellow Christians around the world, and the Heads of Churches as well, to put an end to Israeli violations of our right to worship freely in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, so that Christians will be able to enter the Church to pray."

Source: Palestinian Christian NGOs, 20 March. 2007