29 November 2005

Camera Happy

Yesterday, after viewing the recent posts, the wife told me she was going to take the camera away from me; my pics were getting a little ridiculous. I have always had a snap happy finger. As a kid I would take pictures of mud puddles, endless snaps of our dog Amos, pine trees with snow on them, etc. So today I signed up with flickr.com as a way to better communicate my pictures without clogging up the blog. Enjoy the selections.

Reflections on Advent Worship

One time my mother, my sister and myself went to Myrtle Beach for a summer vacation. One morning we went to the K&W Cafeteria, it was pure heaven for me - rows and rows of breakfast buffet items. I piled all I could onto my plastic cafe tray (by the way bee keeping suppliers sell these as Integrated Pest Management (IPM) trays, no foolin') and proceed to eat all I could. My eyes, however, were bigger than my stomach. Sundays Advent service felt a lot like that; my liturgical appetite went well over my liturgical threshold. After talking with the deacons last night we decided to let the choir lead the responses, take out or move a couple of uncomfortably angled pews and begin with an advent song that we all know. I think this is reasonable and one that I am more comfortable with.

28 November 2005


I can vaguely remember the pastor lighting some candles before Christmas at FBC St. Albans, WV
but cant remember much after that. During my first year of seminary at BTSR, after thanksgiving, they started talking more about Advent and how the Christian and Jewish communities share a joint Messianic hope, there was talk about purple decorations, advent hymns (you mean carols? No, real live advent hymns) and special liturgies. I was a bit overwhelmed, still am, but awestruck with a sense of historical worship and religious traditions.

So I attended worship filled with all of the images from Old Testament class and sang O Come O Come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoijce! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel! That was pretty amazing for me. I love that hymn.

This year I am sure that I have messed up everyones Advent. I have introduced four taize responses and put the church in the round. Here is a picture of the sanctuary and the order of service.

Order of Service
Ringing of the Bell
Greeting (sung)
Wait for the Lord, whose day is near.
Wait for the Lord: be strong, take heart!
Advent Candle Lighting singing We Light Advent Candles
Opening Prayer (Collect of the Day from the BCP)
Opening Hymn
Call to Confession
The Kyrie
Words of Assurance
Song of Praise
Bless the Lord my soul and bless God's holy name.
Bless the Lord my soul who leads me into life.
First Lesson
Second Lesson
Gospel Lesson
The Word of God for the People of God
Thanks be to God
Sung Response
Prepare the way of the Lord
Prepare the way of the Lord,
and all the people will see the salvation of our God.
Hymn of Invitation/Response
Prayers of the People of God
O Lord, hear my prayer. O Lord hear my prayer.
When I call, answer me.
Lord, hear my prayer. O Lord, hear my prayer.
Come and listen to me.
The Lord's Prayer
The Peace
Stewardship Moment
Stewardship Hymn From the Rising of the Sun
Prayer of Dedication
Departing Hymn

This is gonna take a few weeks to sink in.

I'd hoped to post my sermon, but you just cant go away the week before advent, come home hit the ground running and have all in place for sunday morning. So my sermon was a creation supplied by 26 hours of driving reflection, puffed up by an advent workshop earlier in the year and some astronomical observations in relation to the True Light whose coming we celebrate. Next week, watch out.

Trip Home Reflections

Usually on Monday mornings I hang out at Coffee Exchange to down a couple cups of joe, munch on a granola scone and take in all of the sights and sounds of the joint. As soon as I enter the doors and order a medium black Naragansett the creative juices start flowing. I dont what it is about the place but I like it and find it worthwhile spending time there.

WV has a pretty cool coffee shop, Taylor Books, but I never knew about places like that till I was in my mid-20s.

But I can not support the place today there is too much on the table. I returned from Thanksgiving in WV exhausted. It was by far the worst and best time at home in my life.

On Wednesday night I patronized a local establishment with the hopes of running into some friends from high school. Indeed they were there. I enjoyed getting tanked with some old pals and hangin around folk who knew me before I was rev. theobilly. An ordained human needs those kinds of relations, I miss them.

Some pics from the trip will be on after lunch.

16 November 2005

Maybe I wait till Saturday

Leaving for West Virginia on Friday morning and planning to catch the late showing of Walk the Line, but if the CBS special this evening is any indication I think I'll wait till Saturday or maybe till it comes out on DVD.

It started out with Brad Paisley and never recovered. The Sheryl Crow voice? Kid Rock, come on that guy is about as phony as they come. Dave Grohl needs to put some bass in that voice. I digress. CBS should've bought the rights to the TNT special that came out after St. John's death and replayed it. Oh Brother.

15 November 2005

The Turkey

Last Saturday the church I serve had their annual Harvest Supper. I decided to grill a turkey. I have been wanting to experiment with this method for some time, but never motivated enough just to do for myself. So when I heard the church needed a couple of more turkeys (no comments from the peanut gallery) I volunteered.

The Recipe:
One turkey (mine was a 14 lber)
Brine it over night in a clean five gallon bucket.
For the brine bring one cup sugar, one cup of salt, couple cloves of garlic, some pepper, some mustard powder to a boil. Cool to room temp. then put bird in bucket and cover with brine and more water if needed. Let sit overnight in a cool spot. (it was 30 degrees in RI that night, so i sat it in the garage). Next day pat it dry and let set out to come to room temp. Then coat with bacon grease and pepper. Why bacon grease? We fried some bacon that morning and it was right there. I could have used olive oil, but come on - were talking bacon drippings, the gold of appalachian cooking. the nectar of hillbillies.

Prepare grill. Light your coals (i prefer hard wood chunks). When ready put a medium size aluminum pan on one side and coals on the other. Place a small handfull of woodchips on for smokiness. The Revs. Smalls gave us a nice smoker box to place directly on top of the coals. Place birdbreast side up over top of pan and grill for 1and 1/2 to 2 hours. My son needed to be rocked back to sleep so my timer went off at 1 and 1/2 hours, kids take precedent over turkey on grill.

Put another load of fresh hot coals and wood chips on.

Rotate bird so that other breast gets cooked, about an hour. Place probe thermometer in thigh till registers at least 170. Let bird rest then eat carve about 20 minutes after coming off grill.

here are some pics. it was too beautiful to cut.

here it is on the grill

here it is resting:

here it is in a serving platter

here is my plate that night.

mmm, grilled turkey with bacon grease.

12 November 2005

ad wizard

Perhaps you can recall the SNL "Stand Up and Win" skit from a few years ago with Jerry Seinfeld and Adam Sandler. Regardless of the question Adam Sandler would answer "Who was the ad wizard who came up with that one." I have always appreciated Sandler's comment and wanted to use it in some type of comedic reference. Thanks to the web, a scanner and Northern Baptist Seminary's ad my perfect sarcastic storm has blown ashore.

A couple years back Northern Baptist Seminary created possibly the worst
advertisement in the history of seminary ads. I only saw it in Christian Century.

A close second, is one of the current ad for my alma mater. The people pictured are great Liberal Prostestant saints, but here is the crux: the pictures are in black and white and two were born in the 19th century. It looks more like an ad for a nursing home than a seminary. Furthermore, it looks like it was cut and pasted in about five minutes.

I know what the ad is attempting to convey but, come on; is this the best the ad wizards can do?

The folks pictured above added greatly to the history and tradition of CRCDS, but they accomplished more than a simple picture. I feel a better advertisement would show the lines and lines of people during the March on Washington. Or a picture of the consecration service with the laying on of hands for the bishop. Or how about a picture of Jim Forbes serving communion at Riverside. Better yet, a simple number - the number of Rauschenbusch books that have been sold!

CRCDS our graduates are a part of the most important religous movements of our nation. CRCDS our graduates change history!
Come and be a part of what God has set in motion.

I bemoan because I love CRCDS and I want it to succeed, I want it to be the best Protestant seminary in America. I would love if it had a waiting list, a majority of younger students, had Glen Hinson as prof of spirituality and was paving the way for liberal evangelicalism, conversed with emergent church and opened the way for broader racial reconciliation. And on top of all of this I pray to God that they would develop an advertisement that would make people want to look at the pathetic web site. Oh CRCDS how long, how long?

One last note, I have yet to find any seminary ads the whet my whistle.

10 November 2005

Carl's Auto Body

A few years ago for Xmas a good buddy of mine bought me a used jacket, not just a used jacket but a used work jacket: specifically a Carl's Auto Body used work jacket. I love this jacket, I wear it all the time, especially when I go to The Auto Zone.

On Tuesday after a New Member's meeting I went to a local establishment to grab a Bass and to watch the Marshall University (my alma mater) vs. SMU football game (who schedules a game on Tuesday?). I had my Carl's Auto Body jacket on. While leaning against the wall and watching the game a dude comes up and starts a conversation about sports and life. About ten minutes into the conversation he asks: Are you a mechanic?

All you ministers out there, go out and by a used work jacket and wear it. You can enter into anybar, USA incognito.

Salt Crusted Pizza

Being a pastor my work week runs Sunday to Thursday. I treat Thursdays as my Fridays, my Fridays as my Saturdays and my Saturdays as my Sundays. On Thursdays we make pizzas, we make the dough, the sauce, grate a block of fresh mozzarella, and have at it. I believe we have perfected the pizza by the addition of condiments on the crust. I use kosher salt, the wife uses garlic salt.

here is the dough recipe
1 cup of warm water
3 cups of all purpose King Arthur Flour
2 and 1/4 teaspoons of Instant Yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of honey (preferably from a hive in your backyard)

Cleaner Abuse

Several years ago some good friends of ours received two brand new vacuum cleaners for their wedding; graciously they gave us one. Disclaimer. The wife wanted to say that my only vacuum cleaner activities include: one, keeping our son from climbing up the vaccum; two, moving the vacuum cleaner from the living room to the closet; and three, around the second week of January I cut out all of the icicles from the spinning cleaning rod that sweeps. Back to the meaning of this post. Shortly after we received and began using this gift I noticed how the wife would operate the cleaner as if it were made out of tungsten, or some kind of hardened cold steel. She would ram it against the baseboard, wedge it under the sofa and move furniture with it. After three years just look at this poor vacuum cleaner.

When we go to the homes of other couples I make it a point to look at the vacuum cleaners and guess what? they all look like this. Go ahead take a look at yours and lemme know.

09 November 2005

True Matriarchy

Around this time of the year, before the cold sets in for the season, the female bees force all of the male bees out. Once kicked out into the cold the male bees die. (A male bee is nothing more than an unfertilized larvae) Here you can see a pile of dead male bees.

I feel a bit of remorse on this day when I find all of the male bees piled up and left for dead. Should I write a liturgy? Should there be a day of mourning. Should all the males of creation wear some form of black cloth?

The male bee actually has quite an extraordinary life. They don't work, build cells, make honey, gather nectar, or even ward off intruders (males have no stingers). There only job is to have sex! Once there task is completed and the sun's rays become more angled they are thrown out and left for dead. Something to admire, kinda.

08 November 2005

Bread Update part II

I promised a picture of the bread from last weekend, here it is.

Caution Church Ahead

Several months ago I sent this picture to Popping Culture and he put it on the blog. But I lost the picture when I spilled a Rolling Rock on my laptop (the ibook survived!). I offer this picture as the icon for the current and next generations of the Christianity.

Last year the Christian Century ran a feature on The Emerging Church and Brian MaClaren. A year later the term emerging church popped up again and I went back and reread the Xian Century article and then went to the Andover Newton library and checked out all the books I could on the subject; there I found some voices, thoughts, ideas and ventures right on track with my own.

I went to Colgate Rochester Divinity School and proudly graduated with honors and with all of the regalia of a Liberal Protestant degree. But after five years of ministry I found some cognitive dissonance (a term I learned at CRDS) between the education I received and the community I serve. My hunch is that all seminarians experience this.

What I am seeking is a way of pastoring that blends the Appalachian love of preaching, emotion, the bible and fellowship with the Northeastern love of reason, liturgy, and the spoken word. Can one properly blend Billy Sunday and Peter Gomes? I think so.

Prostestantism in North America somehow has to find a way to get beyond the liberal vs. fundamentalist fights, those fights do not interest me in the slighest - they bore and suck the life out of me. Those fight draw you to them and use all of your creative energy. Uggh!

I am seeking a Christianity that is somehow beyond that gulf and appreciates the values of both sides (minus the political wrangling). I am seeking a Protestantism that still protests an infallible human figure, a "priestly class" and non-democratic bureaucracy. However, I am seeking a Protestantism that fully embraces and draws from the creative wellsprings of contemplative prayer, spiritual disciplines, historic connectivity, and observance of the Christian year. I am seeking a Baptist path that uplifts a Christ-ocentric narrative, an unabashed emotive faith expressions, a love of terribly beautiful "banged out" hymns, radical discipleship and holds supreme the voluntary principle. However, I want to be connected to the Anglican bloodlines that run through this path. I like to wear a clerical collar, bless people, and hear confession.

All of my trains of thoughts keep hitting both centrally and tangetially to some of the aveunes of the Emergent Church. I am bit hesitant to jump on board. Why? I refuse to bleach my hair, give up business suits, and create a church that is geared more to one specific generation. I cherish the memories of sitting next to Grandma in church. I cherish the intergenerational aspect of congregational worship. I cherish the wisdom, folly and joy when there are blue haired old ladies, no haired men, thin haired babies and thick haired teenagers.

These are embryonic thoughts. I will continue to read, think and write this out. Comments will be greatly appreciated. Still be forewarned: CAUTION CHURCH AHEAD.

07 November 2005

Counting Abner

We counted you in our hearts.

Expectancy. Memory. Brokenness.

Count Your Dead

Yesterday the church I served observed All Saints Day. As part of the liturgy we honored the departed. During one of the prayers I invited folk to speak the name(s) of the departed that were on their lips. To my surprise several voiced a name, some couldn't.

I meant to read this poem as part of the liturgy, but forgot. It is a poem(s) by C. D. Wright, a prof at Brown. This is from Stealing Away: Selected and New Poems.

Count your fingers
Count your toes
Count your nose holes
Count your blessings
Count your stars (lucky or not)
Count your loose change
Count the miles to the state line
Count cars at the crossing
Count the ticks you pulled off the dog
Count your shells
Count the points on the antlers
Count the newjacks's keys
Count the beds you've got to let
County your cards; cut them again

Count your gray hairs
Count your chigger bites
Count your pills
Count the times the phone rings
Count your T cells
Count the days sine your last menses
Count the storm candles
Count your stitches
Count your broken bones
Count the flies you killed before noon

Count your folding money
Count the times you said you wouldn't go back
County your debts
Count the roaches when the light comes on
Count your kids after the housefire
Count your cousins on your mother's side
Count your worrisome moles
Count your dead:

Count the days of summer ahead
Count the years you finished in school
Count the jobs you don't qualify to hold
Count the smokes you've got left
Count the friends you;'ve got on the inside
Count the ones who've already fallen

06 November 2005

Open House Weekend

Thanks for moseying over to see what theobilly is all about. Feel free to nose around, poke your head in, listen in on conversations. Be sure and sign the guestbook, snack on some cheese and crackers and take with you a thank you gift before you leave. Over the next few days there will be some cosemtic changes along with posts.

04 November 2005

The A.P. Carter Theory of Ministry

If you were able to watch the PBS special on the Carter Family you saw A.P. Carter roaming the hills of Appalachia searching for all types of Scots-Irish traditional songs, hymns, mountain tunes, and what not. He collected them then produced them. He took in all of these songs and sifted them through his creative mind and produced a Carter Family product. When we all sing Will the Circle Be Unbroken, we sing it the way AP Carter produced it. I wonder if there is an individual alive who remembers in its true "mountain form?"

So the same goes for ministry. As pastors we roam hospital rooms, living rooms, baptismal waters, Books of Common Prayer, ancient contemplative works, coffee shops, donut houses, jazz clubs and the like. We take all of this stuff in and sift it through our creative Spirit and produce a form of ministry, a new creation.

03 November 2005

The Joe Morgan Theory of Ministry

Growing up in West Virginia my baseball heart always called Cincinatti home. How many hours did my ears soak up the voice of Joe Nuxhall and Marty Brennaman? How many times did I dream I would rise from my catching crouch and throw out a runner attempting to steal second jus like Johnny Bench? How many times did I hear Joe Morgan simply say: "See the ball, hit the ball." That phrase from Joe Morgan stuck with me. I used it as my theology of ministry as I left seminary. But I didnt really grasp it till the other day. In ministry you dont try to pull an outside pitch into left field, you hit a ball down the line into right field. You see the ball and hit the ball.

The other day the church I served changed the times we worship and offer Sunday School. After this change we noticed that we lost several kids but gained a whole bunch of adults. I cringed at the sight of empty child classrooms and frustrated teachers but delighted in the overflowing room of adults. My natural inclination was to force the issue and get the kids back (aka trying to pull and outside pitch). But I saw the ball (a room full of adults) and hit the ball (prepared the best bible study I could.)

Last Sunday the new Sunday School superintendent went around and asked adults to teach classes and asked kids to commit to Sunday School. (Sometimes you have to pull an outside pitch to move the runner or score a run) As always, every metaphor has its limits. But overall I still think the see the ball hit the ball approach works at least 68% of the time.

02 November 2005

Let Us Now Praise the Spoken Word

This afternoon while riding back from the VA home of RI I listened to portions of the Rosa Parks service. If you heard Sen. Barack Obama of Ill. or Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, you now know the power of the spoken word, the need for the spoken word and the heightened communicative form of the spoken word. The Church desperately needs more preachers of the spoken word, preachers who take their sentence structures, natural rhythms, and word selection serious. If we take our time, chew on thoughts, let sentences stew without a barrage of to be verbs, ears on Sunday morning will perk up, take notice and appreciate a fine sentence. Too many areas of life suffer from a depletion of valueless words, sermons should not "be" another dead end vocabularly street.

The Perfect Bowl of Oats

As the sun begins her journey farther and farther away from us my stomach initiates the craving for oats process. After three years of oating I offer this as the perfect bowl of oats.

Serving for one:
1/2 cup of oats, preferably organic and not quick. Believe it or not, Whole Foods Organic Oats in the bulk section cost less the Quaker Oats -- no foolin'.
1 cup of water, preferably filtered with a Brita or the likes filter.
Bring water to a boil, add a pinch of salt.
Dump oats in the water, let boil for about five seconds.
Turn heat down so that the oats simmer.
Go take a shower, read the paper, whatever you do.
Come back in about 15 minutes (when "eyes" have formed, just like rice)
turn off heat, put lid on pot.
Prepare your bowl with dried fruit (cranberries, raisins or fresh fall apples)
Pour in cooked oats and a splash of milk.
Venture off with a couple pieces of toast, a cup of oragne juice, a cup of coffee and you are in breakfast heaven.

This early morning meal will stay with you through the morning, preventing cravings, and will make you quite regular.


The Day After All Saints Day

Yesterday a good portion of Christendom celebrated All Saints Day, the branch I belong to (for the most part) let it pass without any fanfare or excitement. But I have always been drawn to All Saints Day and more particularly to the Lives of Saints. I toyed with the idea of naming our first child Saint, that way the child would always be a saint; the wife didnt go for that.

In Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton resolved to live the life of a saint. I always admired his determination.

One day I found myself reading a book of prayers by Karl Rahner, one was addressed to St. Thomas Aquinas. I prayed the prayer without ever realizing what I was doing. It was great prayer. Prayer to Saint Thomas Aquinas.
So I ask of you, St Thomas, (using the traditional formula, the precise meaning of which I shall not ponder right at the moment): Grant that you will intercede for me with God, insofar as all saints stand for all other saints, among whom even poor sinner like myself belong--grant me your intercession so that even if only from afar I may become a little like you: impartial and sober, with courage to consider well before delivering a fiery speech, a man of the Church but not clerical (my meaning here is doubtless clear to you).
Prayers for a Lifetime