Monday, March 24, 2008

haha! easter monday quizzes...

Your Biblical Name Is...

Abira Zayit

You will live to see the end of times.

What's Your Biblical Name?

You Are a Red Crayon

Your world is colored with bright, vivid, wild colors.

You have a deep, complex personality - and you are always expressing something about yourself.

Bold and dominant, you are a natural leader. You have an energy that is intense... and sometimes overwhelming.

Your reaction to everything tends to be strong. You are the master of love-hate relationships.
Your color wheel opposite is green. Green people are way too mellow to understand what drives your energy.

Your Inner European is Italian!

Passionate and colorful.

You show the world what culture really is.

now that Jesus has come out of the tomb...'s time for some of y'all to come out of hiding as well!

That's right, it's Easter Week De-Lurking!

If you're out there, hiding in the dark ether, come into the light. It's nice out here. :-)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Reading Challenge 2008

Today I picked up from the library, and read (it might be the only book they've ever had both checked out and returned during business hours...) A Poisoned Season. It's the sequel to And Only To Deceive (a couple of posts down). It was a fun fluff read, perfect for a day when I didn't have to do anything else.

Oh yeah, and tomorrow's Easter and actually I had several other things to do...good thing it only took me a couple of hours to read it!

holy week and other things

Holy Week happened--our progressive-worship (like a progressive dinner, where you all go on to a different place together) Maundy Thursday seems to have worked. The funeral Friday morning happened. The high-church Good Friday with the St. Matthew Passion happened beautifully in spite of my inability to connect what my eyes read with what my mouth was saying.

We somehow managed to slip in 8-10 inches of snow, the plowing service we use at church managed to NOT come and plow the parking lot until we were all already there, and I managed to fall down some steps leaving church last night, bruising my knees. (Thankfully no one was decidedly un-graceful)

Today it's sort of sunny--the snow is sparkling on my deck. As long as I'm in the house, I don't mind. But it's supposed to snow more tomorrow--all between 3am and 3pm. Just the time when we want it to be snowing, right? Between the snow and spring break we are anticipating lower Easter attendance than usual, but Jesus will come out of the tomb whether the crowds are in the church to welcome him or not.
I think I have a children's time worked out--I just need to do a few things before tomorrow to get ready. I have the makings of green bean casserole waiting for tomorrow. I need potatoes so I can make mashed potatoes. And then everything will be ready and all I have to do is sit on my couch and read a book for the rest of the day.

I'm not sure that's what the early church had in mind when they talked about Quiet Saturday, but it seems perfect to me. It's pretty quiet--the only noise is my water heater (which makes strange noises), my cats, a few birds singing outside (probably asking each other what happened to bring back December in March!), and the sound of me typing...

quiet indeed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Reading Challenge 2008

Yes, I'm reading a lot. As previously noted, I know I do this when I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed--I head off to another land.

So the book I began at the gym yesterday was finished yesterday evening (my first evening at home in several weeks).

Yes, it was fluff. And?

And Only To Deceive was a fun yet slightly mysterious escape into late-19th century aristocratic England. Not entirely formulaic, full of wonderful references to antiquities, Homer quotes, and the budding intellectual freedom of a young woman, I liked it. And it freed me from thinking about Maundy Thursday for a good couple of hours. A good half-price-books buy!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Reading Challenge 2008

Last night I finished Heavens to Betsy, a novel by an ordained woman pastor (CCDoC) about a 30 year old single woman pastor. It's written entirely in the first person, which I know irritates my friend Amy but doesn't bother me very much.
Betsy serves as an associate in Nashville after leaving her solo pastorate somewhere farther south. She encounters a lot of sexism and also some ageism...she also, I think, in many ways typifies the young clergy woman experience. Her love life is either non-existent or in a shambles, her professional life is difficult at best, and her doubts about her calling are fairly usual.
I found this to be a fun novel with quite a bit of realism. I was angry at the things people would say and do to her, angry at the way she just took it as though pastor=doormat, proud of her when she really claimed her pastoral authority, sad when her circle of friends started to disintegrate, touched at the descriptions of some of the most sacred moments of being a pastor.
It was a pretty good book, in other words. :-)

Monday, March 17, 2008

slightly depressing Sunday evening movie...

Last night I came home after a very long day (preached three services, had youth group, taught confirmation class about forgiveness/salvation/atonement) and ate all my leftover mashed potatoes and vegetarian brown gravy for dinner. Pretty much the best dinner ever (I make really good mashed potatoes!).

I finally watched the movie I got last week at the library--it's officially overdue so I figured I might as well watch it at least! Kolya is a Czech movie set in the time just before the end of Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia (try typing that a bunch of times...). Kolya is a little Russian boy who is sort of the victim of his mother's ambition and lust. Mom gets into a fake marriage with a Czech cellist (who got tossed out of the Philharmonic for political reasons) who is in financial trouble and agrees to the fake marriage only under duress. Mom runs off, unannounced, to "the West" to be with another lover (married) and to take a job only a couple of days after the wedding, leaving the boy with his grandmother, who ends up dying, leaving Kolya (who speaks no Czech) in the care of his now-stepfather-by-accident (who speaks no Russian). They learn to get along together and to care for one another and the whole thing is terribly sweet even if it is a little depressing (what with the whole communist thing, the we-hate-russians thing on the part of Louka's older mother, the whole poor-because-I-only-play-at-funerals-since-I-got-kicked-out-of-the-orchestra thing, etc). The boy is clearly traumatized--abandoned by his mother and seemingly by his grandmother as well (he's simply told she's asleep). There's a heartbreakingly beautiful scene where Kolya is in the bathtub, using the showerhead as a phone, talking to his baboushka, saying he went to visit but she was asleep and won't she please wake up and come back? He's crying into the "phone" the whole time...telling her what's going on, etc. Adorable, but so sad.

anyway--here's the big spoiler--soviets leave and mom comes back to take the boy with her. He doesn't want to go at first, but he eventually does, and now its stepdad who is forlorn. He gets his orchestra job back, but loses his only real human connection (all his other connections are standard man-crap, using and discarding women). I thought it was the saddest thing ever that the kid ended up being reunited with his mom. I wish he'd stayed with Louka! Alas, no.

The film was beautifully made, wonderfully acted, and generally all-around good. I just cried at the ending. I know this movie is totally old (1996) but I hadn't heard of it in case you haven't either, it's now on my recommended list.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Everybody Loves a Parade--a sermon for Palm Sunday A

Rev. Teri Peterson
Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church
Everybody Loves A Parade
Matthew 21.1-11
March 16 2008, Palm Sunday A

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’ This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
‘Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’

When I was growing up, going to a parade was one of the most exciting events I could imagine. I lived about an hour away from Portland, Oregon, and so the Portland Rose Festival was always a highlight of our year. Since 1907, Portland has been putting on a festival that includes, of course, floats made entirely from roses, along with the standard marching bands and horses and shriners in their funny little cars. Millions of people line the streets to watch.

There were smaller parades too—closer to home we had a strawberry festival, plus parades to kick off the state and county fairs. I loved parades so much that the year I got my first camera I took pictures of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which I was watching on TV.

When I read the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, I want to imagine it as a parade like the ones I went to growing up, where people tossed butterscotch or strawberry candies off of fire trucks and marching bands actually marched (none of this walking that’s fashionable these days) and the flags of city, state, and country were carried by men in uniforms. I want there to have been a grand marshal and maybe even some cheerleaders. In my imagination, it’s an old-fashioned, kid friendly, family fun kind of experience.

But that’s probably not terribly likely. In Jesus’ time, only one type of person was in a parade—the military type. Parades are for the emperor, the governor, the army. And they serve one purpose: to show power. The Roman empire was particularly known for its victory parades—to process through the streets of a conquered city, and then later through the streets of Rome, with the full army, with the former rulers in chains, with the empty chariot of the old king or governor, with fabulously big animals like lions and tigers, was to show who was in charge. It’s a reminder to all who see it that there is one empire and it is ruled by a man who would be god.

This is the kind of procession Pilate would likely have been in. He would have come from his palace on the seaside to stay in Jerusalem for the festival of Passover. Passover was the biggest festival of the year—people would come from all over the land to celebrate in Jerusalem. The city population swelled to several times its usual size, full of pilgrims and zealots and revelers, celebrating God’s power to liberate the chosen people from oppression. It’s the perfect time for an uprising, so it was important to increase the Roman presence as well. Pilate’s parade would have included the marching army and his own officials and household mounted on horses or pulled in chariots. His parade would have been welcomed by Herod and by the Temple priests. It was a big deal, a spectacle not to be missed. I imagine it might have looked something like this parade… (show clip from Alexander: 49.54-51.30 (chapter 13))

This parade sends a pretty clear message about power—it’s rooted in violence and money, and he has it, the people on the sidelines don’t. Their choice is to cheer or to be noticed as a dissenter.

I don’t think this is what Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem looked like. I think this is what some of his followers were hoping for—that at last, he’d be recognized for who he was, that people would finally realize who was in their midst and they would all bow down and worship him, and he would come into Jerusalem as its rightful king, taking the power that belonged to him and overthrowing the Roman oppressors.

But by this point in the story we know that’s not really who Jesus is. Jesus is about healing, about wholeness, about compassion, about love—not about military might or the perks of royalty. And from where we sit, looking back on the story, we know that Jesus wasn’t about overthrowing one oppressive power just to make way for another—he was about suffering and humility and love conquering once and for all.

So when Jesus sets up his parade, it looks strikingly different from Pilate’s. He knows Zechariah’s prophesy about the true king, and he remembers that the prophets often acted out their messages when words failed. So instead of a mighty steed Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, a beast of burden, a lowly and stubborn animal that no man would ever ride and even some women would shun. He is surrounded by his disciples, who may recall the prophesy but certainly don’t understand what’s happening. Peasants and pilgrims swarm around him, trying to get into the city gates to visit the Temple before nightfall. There are no marching bands, no armies with helmets and spears, no wild animals, no trappings of power at all—not even a horse. Just a man who preaches about love, riding on a donkey surrounded by rabble from the little villages of an occupied nation. Perhaps it looked like this: (show clip from Pasolini 1.22.25-1.24.15).

Jesus knew what he was doing that day when he rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey. He knew what kind of message he was sending with his action. He invited those who were familiar with scripture to take notice—he declared himself to any who had eyes to see and ears to hear. But this parade doesn’t end at the palace, greeted by the king and the priests. This parade stops on a barren hillside, on a cross, surrounded by mockery and shame and humility. This parade leads to pain, to love that suffers for the beloved, to death and grief and fear. Those who crowd around the donkey, waving their tree branches, have no idea what’s on the other side of the tomb—they don’t even know what’s coming at the end of the week, though Jesus knows and he trusts that God’s grace will be enough to open their eyes and ears to good news.

I wonder, if we had a choice, which parade we would choose? Marcus Borg imagines both parades happening on the same day—Pilate entering the city from the west and Jesus entering from the east. If we were in Jerusalem that day, which parade would we rather be in? The spectacular one with pomp and circumstance, where we stand lining the streets to watch? Or the small, villager one with tree branches and a donkey, where everyone joins in and there are no bystanders? Borg writes, “Jesus’ procession deliberately countered what was happening on the other side of the city. Pilate’s procession embodied the power, glory, and violence of the empire that ruled the world. Jesus’ procession embodied an alternative vision, the kingdom of God. This contrast—between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Caesar—is central to the story of Jesus and of Christianity.”

This contrast is central to our story as well as to Jesus’ story. As we enter this holy week, perhaps we can wonder together about which parade we are in, which story we are telling, which kind of power we are embracing. Do we want to watch a parade that conveys strength, wealth, and triumph and ends at the palace? Or are we willing to be in a parade of the poor and outcast, a parade filled with good news and love but also with suffering and a power made perfect in weakness? The road to the cross holds both parades—how will we choose walk it?

May God’s grace and love go ahead of us and behind us into this holy week, to the cross and all the way to an empty tomb.

(1) Borg and Crossan, The Last Week, p. 4.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Reading Challenge 2008

Okay, I have read two more books this week. I can always tell when I'm stressed out because I read like crazy--I stay up late reading, I read several books at once, I do anything I can to escape to a different place.

So this week I read Three Cups of Tea which was stunning and beautiful and challenging. This very well-written account of how one man can change the world was incredible--highly recommended. Also, this book reminded me that I'm not the only one in the world out there saying "violence does nothing but make people hate...only education and giving people tools to get out of poverty makes people less susceptible to the charms of terrorist-trainers!!"

I also read The Dante Club, a murder mystery set in late 19th century Boston and revolving around HW Longfellow, JR Lowell, OW Holmes, etc., and their club for translating the Divine Comedy. It was intelligent and witty and also a good mystery--I had lots of theories as the book went on but none were right. I only figured out the murderer when the author decided to reveal who it was. An enjoyable fluff book. :-)

Now I have to focus on writing a sermon....

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I suck at juggling.

I cannot keep the balls going. So many things to do, so little time.

How does this happen? I feel like my head is exploding in balls like the ones from a ball pit at McDonald's.

And the only coherent thing in my brain right now?

a sung response we are using this Sunday, from South Africa.

Sanna, sannanina, sanna, sanna, sanna! Sanna, sannanina, sanna, sanna, sanna! Sanna, sanna, sanna, sannanina, sanna, sanna, sanna! Sanna, sanna, sanna, sannanina, sanna, sanna sanna!

Friday, March 07, 2008


...I wish I had an anonymous blog.

There are a lot of things I want to say right now about this whole FL-MI presidential race thing. But I'll keep them to myself because, well, my blog is not anonymous. And I don't know who all is reading. And I don't want to send my extremely fire-y opinions out into the blogosphere when I am not entirely sure I understand the complexities and intricacies of the situation AND I don't know who's reading.

Let me just say, after reading lots of comments on the situation over at wow. And also this: for all the energy we expend on fighting with one another, and for all the money we talk about throwing around, I suspect we could actually do what we are all talking about--change the world. for the better.

I think the same thing about the church and the energy and money we spend fighting over things that are adiaphora (peripheral issues).

Just saying.

whoops....neglected blog alert!

Hmm...I forgot about my blog for a little while. Sorry.

The whole on-vacation thing was good...three days off. woohoo! Ames and I spent time at the spa, which was amazing. I so loved spending the afternoon being massaged and pedicured. I should do that more often. And with the half-off cards they gave me for a bunch of next visits, I will.

Let's see....In the past week I've been to the spa, I've eaten at some of my favorite restaurants, I've said goodbye to Amy afeter her vacation here, I've been to help at the Sunday School Teacher mid-year Training, I've done a bunch of church, confirmation class, etc...and brainstormed Maundy Thursday and Palm Sunday...desperately trying to come up with several stations and their activities for Maundy Thursday. I'm going with exploring the story from the inside, as it were. There'll be a handwashing/all the disciples together experience, a betraying/selling out God for our own interests/Judas experience, communion, and an abandonment/denying/Peter experience. Haven't really worked out more than that so far. Music ideas, anyone? We probably have a guitar player, assuming his flight home from a business trip is on time. :-)

Tonight we had a great Taize service even with a very small crowd. And now...Hot Fuzz. It's overdue at the library, but I figured if I'm going to pay a fee I might as well actually watch it. it's pretty funny so far.

and that's all. I promise something more worthwhile over the weekend....after all, it's Presbytery meeting time on Saturday! good times.