30 December 2006

Christmas Catch-up

On Christmas morning around 4:00am we headed down to TF Green Airport to spend time in WV for the holidays. The trip went well.

Now a list of things that broke while I used them or other unlucky events:

My mother's blazer overheated and had to be towed (luckily it was just a busted hose).
My mother's computer tower just shut down a few moments after I hooked it up.

My mother's tooth cracked while she ate my undercooked Chicken Parmigiana (I recommend you cook the cutlets on the stovetop a little longer - luckily the semi-raw chicken was spotted by the wife and thus saved everyone from a day or two of tormet. After spotting the problem the wife took everyone's plates - the nephew and mother-in-law were upset that we took their plates, they were hungry)

The daughter's pink Barbie suitcase was lost, eventually delivered later that night at the house.

It was a good trip, odd without dad.

22 December 2006

You Still Have an Hour

If you happen to have cable and access to TBS then please do yourself a favor and tune in at 9:00pm to watch Shop Around the Corner. If you know 'em or if you dont. Settle down with your honey, Klara Novak, Alfred Kralik and Hugo Matuschek, you won't be disappointed.

If you are wondering what to nibble on during this movie delight? How about a cup of hot cocoa and some grapenut pudding.

For the cocoa, warm up some milk, then take some of those chocolate discs you have left over from baking and throw them in the milk to melt - stir and ladle into some nice mugs. For the pudding: 7 eggs, .75 cup of sugar, 2 cups of whole milk, 1.5 teaspoons of vanilla, .33 cups of Grape_nuts, 1/8 tsp of ground cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp of ground nutmeg.

preheat oven to 350. lightly butter a baking dish, whatever you have - one of those white ones with blue on them works.
whisk eggs and sugar, then mix in milk and vanilla. (this is now a custard)
place in dish and cover top with g-n, cin, and nutmeg.
the grapenuts will sink to the bottom and spices usually stay on top.
put in oven for 25-35 minutes till knife comes out clean.
cool and there you go.

21 December 2006

Take that!

Fantastic article in the Times this morning affirming my life as a messhead.

I finished up the order for our Lessons and Carols Service. While looking at the King's College web page I noticed that they also do a Carols at King's service which is made specifically for television. it is shorter and only has six lessons which vary each year the format allows for a more flexible and creative service, so I went with it.

Today is Roger's 402nd birthday, Roger Williams that is.

Homemade beef barley soup for dinner , made with leftover roast. Good ingredients make great meals.

Thank Heavens the late Fall PBS pledge drives are over, now I can watch tv again! No more Celtic Women, some lowlander who directs a choir, James Taylor tributes or the like!

Yesterday I was sick. I stayed on the couch for the day and toughed it out, no doubt the ordinary man would have been in the hospital with iv's, specialists and nurses. (the wife begs to differ) About 2:00 AM my sickness "broke." Today I woke up feeling weak but better. I ate breakfast and went to work. At work something happened: I for the first time in months felt like reading. I dont know what happened, but I'm glad it did.

12 December 2006

Saying Goodbye to Leo

Last week #1 & #2 and I gathered into a plane and made our way to WV. The kids slept some, chewed some gum and asked a ton of questions about death and funerals.

We arrived on Wednesday around noon I think. The mode was somber, lots of funeral preparations taking place. Phone calls were made, cards and flowers arrived, and folk made their way to the Valley.

Thursday was the viewing. The family arranged for a photo video to be shown with traditional gospel music playing in the background - it was tough but great. During the showing #2 fell asleep in my lap.

Friday we gathered for a funeral at Judson Baptist and headed to the cemetary. The service went well. Afterwards the apex of meat trays was on display at the homeplace.

Life is going, the sun came up again, people are still smiling and heat came on. But it isnt the same.

Here are the words I was honored to deliver at the funeral service:

A Life Well Lived: Leo H. White

December 8, 2006

Eulogy delivered by his son-in-law

Judson Baptist Church, Winfield, WV

It took me a good bit to know Leo White. Not that he was a hard man to know, it just would have helped if Lori’s brother, David, would have called me up before we started dating and filled me in on some crucial details about his dad.

When I first went to the house to pick up Lori for our first date she told me her dad and her uncle Harry would be on the porch, Leo would have a tattoo of the Statue of Liberty on his forearm. So I turned onto Poplar Drive, pulled into the driveway got out of the truck and discovered two elderly gentlemen on the porch with tattoos on their forearms. Fifty years of life greatly alters WWII tattoos, so that you cant tell a Statue of Liberty from the Liberty Bell. I simply chose the one with the long narrow tattoo, I guessed right. Thus began my time with Leo.

A couple months later Lori asked me to meet her at the house around 6:30pm. I arrived around 6:45 and knocked on the door. No one answered, but I knew someone was home from the blaring country music streaming from the television. I opened the door and went in. My eyes discovered the twirling skirts and cowboy boots of Dance Ranch, a evening regular program at the White residence. Turning my head to the left I saw Leo sitting in his chair, relaxed, evening paper in his lap and his eye open. I sat down in the chair to the left of him and asked how he was doing – no answer. I asked if the Braves won the afternoon game – no answer. I asked him if he was upset with me - no answer. No one told me Leo had a glass eye and that when he slept its lid never closed.

Leo was hard to get to know but once I did I was glad. Once I got to know him I realized that he did the one and only thing you can ask of a father-in-law: he loved his daughter, my wife, unconditionally.

Leo is an old name, a cheerful name. You whisper it and it brings to mind

Celebrity Tomatoes and Fat Boy Beans

Gospel music and Clay County

A clear Elk River and a picnic in August and Golden Delicious Apples

A remarkable hat collection and Precious Memories

Short-sleeve button up dress shirts and Tales of Little League games in Florida

Suspenders and Coupons

A secret stash of candy in the top drawer and pop in the cellar

Cotton pickin’____ and Meathead

Whisper the name and visions emerge

Leo at the table

He didn’t like for the ceiling fan to be on while eat

With his cup of coffee and spoon of honey in the mornings

Going ahead and eating, not waiting for the rest of us to join him

Waiting till the dishes were almost done before he said sit down Kathy I’ll get those.

Leo with a smile on his face

Telling the story of the license plate he got for the car with the letters OPAL

Pulling the kids in a wagon with the tractor

Watching Letterman, saying he’s crazy

Singing aint no bugs on me and six, a slim sycamores

Making garlic chicken and Christmas Candy

Straw hat on his head and hoe in his hand

Leo not wanting to get his new shoes dirty so he put plastic groceries bags overtop of them. He went down to the garden his plastic covered shoes slipped on the morning dew. A few weeks after this I had him retell me the story then asked who’s the meathead now – he replied with his classic cough.

I told Seneca and Glen about Leo’s death after Lori called me on Tuesday morning. Seneca said this stinks I got zero grandpas now. Yeah this stinks alright. Leo lived 85 long, hard and good years. He was insanely early for church and supper; and for us he died too early too.

Leo, thanks for being Leo. We love you.

Peace of Christ be with you.

05 December 2006

Leo the Great

Sometime early this morning Mrs. Theobilly's father Leo Harding White died.

He was a great father-in-law, he will be greatly missed.

When I told the kids, #1 & #2, #1 said I now have zero grandpas. Her words broke my heart. I know it was rough for me losing dad just like it will be for Lori, but for our kids to lose both grandfathers in less than four months has to another level.

Our prayers are with you Leo.

Viewing will be Thursday, funeral Friday.

#1 & #2 and I will be boarding a plane tomorrow morning and heading for WV and will be back in time for the Second Sunday of Advent.

My count has 25 days for this year. Come 2007, Come 2007 cant take much more of this.

04 December 2006

First Sunday of Advent Sermon

Is this as Good as It Gets?
First Sunday of Advent
December 3, 2006
Jer. 33:14-6; Ps. 25:1-10; I Thess. 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36

Signs, oh there will be signs, in the sun, lighting flashing in the sky, a red moon, quakes ripping the earth apart, volcanoes spewing forth hot magma and red orange lava, tidal waves crashing and altering the coast. The sheer experience of which will cause people to faint and pass out, signs, oh yeah there will be signs, we’ll know it. Then the Son of Man will descend, coming in a cloud, with power and great glory. Here is the kicker, the ringing bell to alert us, listen up church – Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, why? Because your redemption is drawing near.

We’ll definitely know when Jesus, aka the Son of Man, will be returning – creation will exult with joy and change here appearance to welcome salvation. When will this second coming take place? We have no idea. Each generation seems to think that it is the one. For generations folk went to mountaintops, leaving all behind, with a specific date in mind only to be let down. Folk have bought millions of books with exact dates and formulas only to have the day pass and an interesting revision in print for the next year. Each generation sees the events of its time as the final clue leading to the end of the world. But a look at history shows this time is just as ugly and beautiful as any. We don’t have any idea when Jesus will come back.

Advent reminds us that Jesus is coming back, but maybe not in the way that we think. So what do we do in the meantime?

I have took it upon myself when I go to my hometown to extol the virtues of three New England delights: grape nut pudding, the legacy of liberal Republicans, and my job as pastor of L. R. B. Church. People look at me with great wonder and amusement saying get outta here those three things don’t really exist, but they do. My experience told me that grape nuts were only good for chicken feed, that Republicans were only good for stepping on the working man, and that ministry in a Baptist Church would always be a fight and never fun, rewarding and deeply moving. You just open yourself up enough to God’s comic and ironic ways. Sometimes right around the bend and over the hill there are some beautiful sights to behold. Sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side (it helps when you live on what was once an old cow pasture).

This morning I would invite you to open your minds about our time as we wait, that you seek with great anticipation some beauty waiting for us to behold.

When we hear sermons, read books on or experience scripture lessons on the return of Christ most, if not all, don’t paint a pretty picture. They produce fearful images, frightening screams and terrible life ending scenarios of the rapture. We are led to believe this world, time and age are disastrous and full of nothing by evil – nothing short of a return of Jesus himself can set things right.

This is how most interpret the lesson from the Third Gospel. But as we prepare for the Second Coming, we have to ask what about the First Coming of Christ? What about Emmanuel in this world right here, right now? What about God with and for us? What about the incarnation – the free choice of God to fully enter and participate in this world as a human? What about that holy inhabitation?

The world is chaotic, nuts, unhealthy and at times impossible to accept. Yet, Christ is still present, God is still with us and for us, the Holy Spirit is here to be our helper, advocate, and guide in this world.

We are all waiting in hopeful expectation of Christ’s full return, we loningly sang O Come, O Come Emmanuel but in the meantime we are not alone, we are not without hope or reason to celebrate. We live in a world and live a life already deemed worthy and holy by Christ’s first coming, the incarnation.

Here we are on the morning of December 3, 2006 roughly 1,976 years since Christ’s death, still waiting for Christ’s Second Coming. Waiting for 1,976 years can take its toll on humanity, it can cause us to let our guard down, it can also cause our hearts to be weighed down. 1,976 years of waiting can blur our vision and wash away some enduring memories. 1,976 years of waiting can cause us to forget our poetic claims that drastically challenge the dominant paradigm.

In Jesus’ time 2,000 years ago life was just as difficult as it is today. The pain and suffering of life were too much for many. Great numbers joined social clubs where the drank most of the night and pain away. We may not fill our bellies with extreme amounts of alcohol like they did every night, but we do have our own remedies to make us forget and escape the pain and suffering of our own lives. We have our own vices that weigh our hearts down. Our hearts can and do easily fall into the trap of apathy.

In times like these how do we proclaim good news? How do we puncture the apathy? If you take only one thing away during this season of Advent take this: incarnation, Emmanuel: God for us and with us. God is not against you but is for you. God doesn’t want your life to be a living hell but a life full of meaning and purpose and grace.

So we gather here weekly, and once a year starting four Sundays before Christmas we prepare, we sing, we hear and we experience some good news that the life we are living and in the midst of isn’t as good as it gets that is more to life. That there is an element of God’s living presence in the world right here, right now that can drastically change me and those in my life if I start opening my eyes to it.

In 1895 Leo Tolstoy wrote a short story about a cobbler named Martin. Summary followed of Where Love Is, God Is.

Brothers and Sisters don’t wait for the signs of the earth, the moon and the waves. Don’t let your hearts be weighed down. Live a life of the incarnation, God with and for us, right here, right now. We can meet God everyday, we can welcome God everyday. Prepare for that and don’t worry about anything else.

01 December 2006

Homelitcal Corner

A couple of years ago I sat with two Lutherans pastors and an Episcopalian preist at a BBQ joint in Atlanta discussing our main differences in our faith traditions. One of the two Lutherans posed the question: where is incarnation in your theology? It was and is a great question, even for a Lutheran.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon. I was sitting in my office writing my sermon (I always try to write them on Thursdays on yellow legal paper with a triangular No. 2 pencil) on the Lukan lectionary text. I got to the end with the terrible sinking feeling that I couldnt quite but a finger on. I had written a jesus coming back sermon that came across as quite dualistic. Frustrated I gave up and sat down to read some book reviews in Christian Century. In one review the reviewer mentioned the need for incarnational theology to overcome dualism. My Aha Moment.

Where is the incarnation in my theology? Better for yesterday: where is the incarnation in my sermon? Incarnation, that is exactly what my sermon needed. Now back to the sermon table for some more work, probably not till tonight. The First Lady of LRBC went to WV with #3 to be with her dad. Her dad is doing better, gaining some strength back and speech. He has a temporary feeding tube, in a couple of days they will check his swallowing muscles to see how they are doing. Prayers for Leo are appreciated. I'm here at the house for the weekend with #1 and #2, it promises to be a fun and interesting time.

30 November 2006

Advent Worship

Ever since dad passed away this summer I have felt like work here at the church is at least a month behind, if not more. But the church has surprised me with their pickup and determination. I was ready to tank in Sunday School, now it is thriving and the best since I've been here. I was ready to delay and cut back the 175th events, but it was spectatcular. Now it is stewardship season, I barely got the information out, we'll see what kind of response we will get. I trust it will the results will be what we are hoping for.

SO we begin Advent and I wish more than anything that we still had a couple more weeks of plannig. The calendar doesnt stop for me, so advent here we come.

Worship Order

Ringing of the Bell
Opening Hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel (building verses)
Collect of the Day (Rite I from the BCP)
Prayer of Confession of Sins
Kyrie (sung by choir)
First Lesson
Second Lesson
A Time with the Children
Gospel Lesson
Invitation to Discipleship
Hymn of Discipleship
A Call to Prayer (Psalm for the day)
Prayers of the People
The Peace
At the Offertory
Communion Hymn
Invitation to the Table
Sharing of the Bread and the Cup
Hymn of Thanksgiving
Advent Blessing

As I think about this week's text I am drawn to the line Be on guard that your hearts are not weighed down (Luke 21:34)

A look around perhaps shows a world that has let its guard down. I'm sure a look at my own life reveals a guard down, how else to describe the sudden placement of an extra ten pounds. Diligency doesnt seem to be our virtue. But Advent is a pale of cold water in our faces, calling us to wake up and be on guard. Be on guard for what? For the destruction of the temple? the Son of Man descending on a cloud? I'm not too concerend with the coming eschaton, perhaps I should be. Why? well i'm sure nature will lemme know when the Son of Man will return. I'm too worried about my father-in-law, my mother making in life without her husband, a parishioner who is in the grips of cancer, kids who are ill, not to mention terrorism, torture, war and hunger in our world. I'll save my worries about the Son of Man for a later time, right now today has enough worries of its own.

What's that JC?

And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder: One of the four beasts saying: "Come and see." And I saw. And behold, a white horse.
There's a man goin' 'round takin' names. An' he decides who to free and who to blame. Everybody won't be treated all the same. There'll be a golden ladder reaching down. When the man comes around.

The hairs on your arm will stand up. At the terror in each sip and in each sup. For you partake of that last offered cup, Or disappear into the potter's ground. When the man comes around.

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers. One hundred million angels singin'. Multitudes are marching to the big kettle drum. Voices callin', voices cryin'. Some are born an' some are dyin'. It's Alpha's and Omega's Kingdom come.

And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree. The virgins are all trimming their wicks. The whirlwind is in the thorn tree. It's hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Till Armageddon, no Shalam, no Shalom. Then the father hen will call his chickens home. The wise men will bow down before the throne. And at his feet they'll cast their golden crown. When the man comes around.

Whoever is unjust, let him be unjust still. Whoever is righteous, let him be righteous still. Whoever is filthy, let him be filthy still. Listen to the words long written down, When the man comes around.

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers. One hundred million angels singin'. Multitudes are marchin' to the big kettle drum. Voices callin', voices cryin'. Some are born an' some are dyin'. It's Alpha's and Omega's Kingdom come.

And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree. The virgins are all trimming their wicks. The whirlwind is in the thorn tree. It's hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

In measured hundredweight and penny pound. When the man comes around.

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts, And I looked and behold: a pale horse. And his name, that sat on him, was Death. And Hell followed with him.

28 November 2006

Biscuits, Hospital, and Thanksgiving

Last week the family piled into the Dodge Grand Caravan and headed south to WV for the holiday week. We left RI after church around 1pm and arrived in WV at 3am Monday morning. When we got there mrs. theobilly's father got up and said hello to the kids then went back to bed. He woke up Monday morning not feeling well, by 3pm he was in the hosiptal for evaluations and tests.

Tuesday morning I began my sausage and biscuits feast with a stop by Tudors's Biscuit World, locals refer to it solely by Tudors. I purchased a Sausage and Biscuit and an order of biscuits and gravy. The next morning my father-in-law called from the hospital saying they were going to do some tests and he wanted his wife there. So I got ready and drove my mother-in-law to the hospital. On the way back I stopped at Suzy's Hamburgers for a Sausage Biscuit and Biscuits and Gravy. THanksgiving morning I headed down to Hardees for the same order. After all was said and done I have to rank Suzy's first, Hardees second and Tudor's last.

My father-in-law is still in the hospital, hoping to get out of the ICU today or tomorrow. Hard to see family members suffer, hard to be so far away, but we will do it again after Xmas.

On the way home #2 accidentaly (still debatable) deposited a pantload. He said he had to go but there was nowhere to pull over. At the next exit we pulled off and discovered the pantload. The Mrs. cleaned him up and said what do I do with this mess and these pants (his favorited pair of sweatpants)? I said leave 'em and jump in the car and lets go.

I know you maybe thinking are you kidding me, you just left the pants and all the evidence right there? Well yes. We were out of bags and an enclosed space and a pantload doesnt make for a nice combination. We will atone for our sins.

18 November 2006

Antiques Wordshow

On Tuesday mornings I hold a Bible study at the church. For the first 10-15 minutes I shoot the breeze about news items, politics, updates on the kids, church news, aches and pains and all the rest. About 8 people, sometimes 12, show up every week.

This past Tuesday a woman was talking about President Truman and referred to him as a real balderdash. Balderdash, when was the last time someone was called a balderdash? Personally, I like discovering old words that arent in contemporary use.

13 November 2006

Time Travel

As I travelled to WV from Columbus I followed the south easterly direction of Route 35. By taking this route you can imaginatively travel back in time thousands of years. Travelling from Columbus you notice how flat that section of Ohio is. The table top finish is primarily the work of a an ancient glacier that settled over much of the midwest. Then all of sudden you come to Chillicothe and there are hills all over the place. Why? This was the end of the Wisconsinian glacier. It also marked the spot where The Great Teays River, North America's Nile, ended. (The river before the glacier stretched from Illinois and travelled eastward into Virginia.) Route 35 once you reach Gallipolis, OH follows the Kanawha River into Charleston. But once you exit 35 and travel on I-64 you are smack dab in the middle of the Great Teays River basin. It must have been some body of water. Today if you dig around you can easily find ancient remains of aquatic life in the soil.

12 November 2006

Dressy Sweat Pants

There has been a great lapse in the blog lately. Why? I had to go to WV, I flew to Columbus, rented a car and drove one way to Charleston via the old Great Teays River Valley, turned the car in, picked up a 16 foot Penske Truck, loaded it with stuff and drove back to RI.

All of that time to drive and this is the best idea I can come up with.

How many of you have a hard time picking out a nice outfit for a night out on the town? I bet plenty of you have had faced this dilemma. So what do you do? Well most of us force some clothes that are too tight. We suffer through dinner, we get all gassy, then as soon as the lights go down in the movies we unbutton the top button to relieve the pain.

Is that how you want to spend your time out? No way.

Do you know what you need?

I do.

A pair of pleated khaki dressy sweat pants.

Sold exclusively here at theobilly. Call now for your order, please specify either elastic or free bottom cuffs.

28 October 2006

Good Press on a Bad Practice

Yesterday the Projo Editorial Board published an opinion piece against coal as the fuel of America. Also, this morning the NYTimes ran a piece on Christian activism against moutain top removal.

26 October 2006

Blog Addition for Game 4

Due to the rainout last night it appears the officals of Major League of Blogging are gonna let me submit Theology on Tap in the Burg into tonights lineup.

Mmmmmm Graham Cracker Cake

On Monday I turned the opposite of that particular date. The wife asked what I would like. One thing: A Graham Cracker Cake. My grandma used to make a graham cracker pie, but i have yet to retrieve the recipe. One day while reading the WV Gazette I found a recipe for a GCC, I thought I bet that is good. It is, lemme tell ya.
It has the texture of a good corn muffin, little bit more moist though. The whipped cream frosting doesnt sit well outside the refrig. I thought while finishing a piece the other day after lunch, what about a layer of ganache between the layers, hmmm. I think it would make a welcomed addition. Today for lunch I had a piece with some chocolate chips on the side, not too shabby.

here is the recipe:

12 full size graham crakers, crushed (1.75 cups)
.5 cups of flour
2.5 teaspoons baking powder
1.5 sticks of butter, softened
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mil

2.5 cups of chilled whipping cream
1/3 cups of confectioners' sugar, crushed graham crackers

preheat oven to 350
-combine first three ingred. in separate bowl
-cream butter and sugar in bowl.
add eggs one @ a time, mix in vanilla. beat in flour mixture.
-pour into two greased and floured 8 inch pans
-bake 25 minutes.
-cool in pans for 15 mins.
-remove to wire racks for cooling.

-beat cream
-add conf. sugar
-till soft peaks

place one layer of cake
spread some cream on top
then add second layer
frost with cream all over
add crushed g.c. to the top and serve.

upon finishing be sure to stick in the frig.

24 October 2006

Christians I Can Pray with, finally

Christians pray against Coal-Fired Plant.

Also check out the link for Front Porch, it is a great gathering blog of Appalachian Voices.

Sermon Goes Okay

Rev'd entered the historic pulpit of a new england Baptist Church on Sunday October 22 thinking he had an average sermon prepared on the Holy Spirit. About half way through what appeared to be an average sermon on Thursday (when he finished it) turned out to be a less than average on Sunday morning.

As the congregation exited the sanctuary the first person through said it was a nice sermon. A few persons later one gentlemen appreciated how Rev. tied in the birth of L. R. Baptist and the work of God's Spirit. But when Sunday dinner rolled around that evening at a congregant's house the truth was exposed: "that sermon stunk this morning." Rev. agreed and thought, just have to work harder next time.

Read for yourself and see what you think.

Planned Spontainiety

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Romans 8:26-27 & John 14:15-17

In the four years of life here in New England I have noted the frequent irregularities in your speech pattern. On Friday I went to get a new chain for my chainsaw, the repairman said I would need a new bah in about a year, what? The other day I heard a husband call out to his wife Marianner, ah well. I know it swings both ways, y’all just kind of look at me when I say Woonsocket. Appalachians have their own way of speaking and y’all Yankees do too. We also have a different way of speaking about our religion.

New Englanders have traditionally talked about God, meaning God the Father, maker of heaven and earth. While my people speak a lot about Jesus. Both of us completely skip over the Holy Spirit, I guess we’ve left it for the west coasters. We really do ourselves a great disservice to our understanding and appreciation of God, the Holy Spirit.

We try as best as we can to wrap our heads around God the Creator, we can look around at the moon and stars and say God the Creator made all of this. We can even wrap our heads around Jesus, we can read the Beatitudes and say Jesus spoke those. But how do you refer to the Holy Spirit other than someone rolling around on the floor speaking a language you’ve never heard before?

This year Al Lawton has been snooping, digging and rooting around the history of this congregation. I want to lift the description those church planters left as they retold how this congregation came into in a letter to the Warren Association, “during the past winter and spring a very precious and extensive revival of religion was experienced in this place. As the fruits of this revival, on the 5th of last April a regular Baptist Church was formed…which consists of 24 members.”

There is something we can point to in reference to the Holy Spirit, the birth of this congregation.

God the Creator, for whatever reason, created heaven and earth. For whatever reason God in Jesus Christ freely came to fully experience the life of a human. For whatever reason God’s Spirit now constantly dwells among us. God didn’t take a nap after creating, God didn’t abandon us once Jesus went to be at the right hand of the Father, God came to be with us, to help us, to advocate and guide us on this pilgrimage.

God’s spirit inspires and breathes lives into churches and individuals. But we as Christians in no way possess a monopoly of God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit pops up in unusual places. Sometimes we find truth, head God’s voice and find meaning in the furthest points away from congregations. Sometimes the Church makes the most idiotic and craziest statements that seem like the last thing God’s Spirit would lead one to say.

We can sit around and wait for God’s Spirit to move us, to cause us to quake, or we can work like mad to create a hospitable and open place for the Spirit to live and inspire life in us. We plan for spontaneity. We prepare, prepare, prepare for the moments when God’s Spirit does move and become more real.

Why wait and prepare for moments of Spirit inspired spontaneity? We all want to experience life more fully. We are here, whether we acknowledge it or not, because we are seeking a moment of clarity, love and grace. We are seeking a God centered life. We want what those first disciples had. We wish to see the deeds of Jesus, to hear his words, to taste the bread and fish he prepared, to smell his goodness, and to touch those whom he healed. We want to move, just like his disciples from a bunch who rumble, bumble and stumble in the gospels they barely roll into the book of Acts, but by the second chapter they are boldly living and acting as real disciples. They emerge from behind locked doors as people with something to say, with words worth hearing. What happened to them that can happen to us?

Behind those locked doors the Resurrected Christ came and breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. Receive my helper, your advocated and guide, receive Truth. With the aid of God’s Spirit they emerged from the locked doors and begin to freely live as God’s children.

We are searching for the realization of a life that the old hymn declares:

As the flow’r within the seed
As in the cone the tree
So, praise the God of truth and grace
His Spirit dwelleth in me.

Christ liveth in me,
Christ liveth in me
O what a salvation this.
That Christ liveth in me.

God didn’t create us, send his Son and his Spirit to make our lives a living hell and constantly break our hearts. God is a God who constantly gives, gives and keeps giving.

You want this life Spirit-filled and God-centered life. It is within your grasp. This life doesn’t cost anything. You don’t have to go on a silent journey to the Himalayas to find it. You only have to look within and find the indwelling Spirit, the image of God you were created in. Find the rich goodness of God in you. Look around and see the many ways God is reaching out to find you.

Sisters and Brothers believe, receive the Holy Spirit, the Spirit that help us pray, the Spirit that guides us to Truth, advocates for us and helps us in this life. Find and receive the Spirit indwelling in you.

God of Life and Truth,
Breath your spirit on us,
And give us the new life you so desire.
We are desperate for your words,
For your grace
And for your love.
In Christ’s name we pray

19 October 2006

The hagios Nuematah (phonetic I know)

This Sunday the sermon series turns to the Holy Spirit: I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church.

I always thought of the Holy Spirit as Prince Albert in the Can, stuff you always have around but rarely really use. But what a disservice not to recognize the life giving spirit of mission and truth for the church!

I havent begun to write the sermon yet, will in about an hour or so. I want to play upon the Trouble Maker in Job and the Advocate/Helper in John. And Church universal, not something I have stressed much in my time in the pulpit - I must have a strong sectarian streak in my dna.

The Honey House

Unlike the scene from The Secret Lives of Bees, my honey house is an area designated in the garage. I call it the Honey House for dramatic effect, #1 and #2 are too literal to get my metaphorical/playful use of language just yet.

I harvested the honey. How do you do that? Well you get the supers off the beehive, then take them inside. When you are ready you get your hot knife (a large flat knife that plugs in the wall) and cut the wax off the top of the comb. The bees store the wax for food in the comb then top it off with wax. Then you place the super frames in an extractor (I rent the hand cranked model from the RI Beekeepers) the honey is flung out by centrifigual force. At the bottom on the extractor is a spigot, open it up and the honey flows into a bucket (I buy the five gallon ones from Home Depot, on top of that put a nylon paint strainer) Let the honey, pollen and other bee related stuff flow through, then sterilize some jars and put store the honey.

How much this year? Dont know, about 2 gallons - it was a weak year for honey.

In just the past couple of days NPR has run three segments on beekeeping. Go here to check them out.

West Virginias in the news.
Bad news, Kevin Pittsnogle was reported this morning to be on the chopping block of the Boston Celtics.
Good News, furniture maker, James Probust has an item in the Personal Shopper section of House and Style in this morning NYTimes.

17 October 2006

Woke Up This Morning with...

I woke up this morning thinking it would be raining outside. But instead when I went out to get the newspapers I saw this instead.
Of course it is not a West Virginia sunrise, but it will do. But the goodness of the day didn't stop there. I opened up the NYTimes and found an article about the Worlds Strongest Man contest, the lead dude none other than Phil Pfister of Charleston, WV.

WV update, St. Albans is #2 in the AAA MSAC standings at 7-0. WVU is #4 in the nation at 7-0. Marshall cant buy a win, only win is over I-AA Hofstra, they are a lowly 1-6. Leaves are near peak.

16 October 2006

A Sermon from Sunday, no foolin'

Some Kind of Wonderful
October 15, 2006
I Corinthians 15:3-11 & Luke 24:1-12
text: “He is not here, but has risen.”
Apostles’ Creed teaching:
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Oh brother we are in for it now; words found in between the lines of the gospels, after Jesus was executed by means of crucifixion. We can easily imagine the first disciples saying to themselves the Roman officials and Jerusalem elite “got” Jesus, they will surely get us too.

On the first Easter morn some brave and courageous women ventured out behind locked and shut doors to prepare Jesus’ body for burial; women were the least likely to be apprehended by the authorities if they were caught – women also possess much more genuine bravery than men, they deliver babies, men watch and eat sandwiches.

The women arrived at the tomb and found it empty. Can you imagine the terrible sinking feeling, the ones who killed Jesus have took his body – again.

Jesus was crucified as an enemy of the state, he openly challenged Rome’s imperial rule of Palestine with his teachings, healings, work and way of life. Jesus called for his disciples to give allegiance to God and to God only. Jesus wasn’t the first and he wouldn’t be the last crucified person. Rome practiced a prime theatrical procedure known as crucifixion, a method that killed a human being not in a slow manner full of pain but also one that produced the maximum amount of shame and humiliation. The criminal was stripped naked, beaten the nailed to the cross just outside the entrance to the city. It was a bold proclamation, you mess with Rome and this is what happens to you. If that wasn’t enough once after a few days of public viewing the naked corpse was taken down and thrown into a ravine, left for the wild dogs.

We can trust the gospel accounts as accurate, with a firm brush of whitewashing. They told the story of God being killed, not an easy one to tell. If the gospel accounts are accurate then the spirit-broken disciples went to considerable lengths to bury and care for Jesus’ body. A sly way of reading the actions of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus is to see them as buying off Pilate who let him retrieve the body. However they did it, the first disciples were able to retrieve the body and place it in a tomb. So imagine the terrible sinking feeling the women had when they arrived Easter morning only to find an empty tomb.

The tomb wasn’t totally empty, the gospels record that either one or two men were present in dazzling white clothes asking “Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? He is not here, but raised up. Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?” (The Message translation)

We cannot know for certainty beyond question what took place on that first Easter morn. No one was physically there to witness how Jesus was resurrected. We are all here this morning because of what took place on that odd, fearful, and amazing morning we call Easter. We are here because of a small fledging courage-troubled group of disciples were open to God’s new creative beginning. Without the experience of Easter, Christianity ceases to be a religion, without the Resurrection, we cease to be a community with 175 years of history.

We have explored the free acts and choices of God in Jesus Christ to fully become human, the free choice to fully suffer, the free choice to live with the reality that one day he would die, and the free choice to finally die. The free choices of God in Jesus Christ did not stop on Good Friday but continued on Easter. God in Jesus Christ came back, he returned.

Despite that we threw at him the worst of humanity. We denied him, we were silent when they accused him and we killed him. And yet God in Jesus Christ did not abandon us but freely chose to come back to us again in an act we can only label as some kind of wonderful; another awe producing continuation of Divine Love.

The Resurrected Christ came back with the comforting words, “peace be with you” and with the trusting words for us, “feed my sheep.” Think about this, The Resurrected Christ returns back to us, humanity and creation, and asks us to continue the movement he birthed. God in Jesus Christ trusts us, doubt-prone humans to continue the movement!

Instead of words of peace and trust I would expect God to thunder down some serious judgment upon us. I would expect God to pull another great flood where God wiped out all of creation for its waywardness.

The words of peace and trust from and the continuing presence of the Resurrected Christ did a number on those early disciples, as they do on us. The Resurrection of Jesus gave witness to the fact that not even the bounds of death can stop God’s movement here on this earth. The terror of the end of our existence could not stop the wrecking ball of God’s love for humanity and creation.

The great story of the Resurrection reveals how relentless and pursuant the Hound of Heaven is on our trail. God in Jesus Christ is seeking, by extreme measures to find us. God in Jesus Christ is seeking for us to live a free life; a life free of the fear death, free to see creative possibilities in the midst of death and dire straits, and free to practice disinterested love.

That’s right disinterested love. Most of the time we love because of what we can get out of it. We love others because we get loved back, we love because we get a warm meal, flannel sheets on the bed or to feel good about ourselves. God, luckily, doesn’t love this way. God loves didn’t stop with Good Friday, God love continued on Easter morning and everyday since. We are there to live a life of Resurrection loving not because what we get out of it but because it is the way, witness and example of God in Jesus Christ.

Brothers and Sisters may we believe that on the third day he rose again. May we find the courage to have our lives for the first time or for the 1000th changed by a resurrected God

Let us pray,

God of Resurrection and Disinterested Love,
may we look around at our lives
and discover all the ways you are reaching to us.
So that we may live lives
full of peace,
full of trust
and full of resurrection.

15 October 2006

Another Joyful Hike

On Saturday the Five of us piled into the minivan and headed to Diamond Hill Park for a hike. Diamond Hill is an old ski slope, long closed and now great sledding area. (It is right across the street from The Ice Cream Machine, they make Grape Nut Ice Cream. mmmmmm)
There are two ways up the mountain: straight up the main hill, or a
lazy way (ie. the old bunny slope). We went straight up. The wife chose to carry #3, I offered but she refused, no really.

Once we made it to the top the kids posed to show off their conquering feat.

On the way down they played in the sledding area. We thought it made for a great Little House on the Prairie picture.

13 October 2006

Timing is Everything

When I first arrived at good ole L. R. Baptist I had all kinds of
ideas for ministry. I wanted to get started right away, build a youth
group, build a labyrinth, begin a contemplative prayer group, start an
outreach program to folk 40 and under, incorporate some new music,
blah, blah, blah...

But I came to the sad realization that if I wanted all of the above I had to do them all myself. This Fall after four years at LRBC
things are finally starting to come together. With the prospect of
Sunday School in dire straits people flocked to help and rescued it,
they have called people to invite their kids and just started their own
children's church (here in the northeast it is quite common to havesunday school during worship, we used to but now we have a kids church then sunday school after that).

Last night the Pastoral Relations Committee met to discuss my income package, MMBB recommended a 4.3% CPI raise. (I was thrilled to find compensation guidelines for the Lutherans, UCC, Episcopal, Methodist and Presbyterians in RI via the internet - forget about the ABC-USA every getting something like that together).

The income discussion took about all of five minutes. We spent the
remaining 55 minutes discussing evangelism, outreach, advertising, etc.
It was anexhilarating discussion that I wanted to hold four years ago.
But there we were having the conversation we needed to had - timing is
everything. Our discussion has the potential to be a real church-wide
event and one that could produce significant results.

The NYTimes this week ran a piece about a rabbi who entered a 30 year contract with the congregation, I'm not ready to enter into that type of relationship but it would be an interesting idea to say to yourself this is where I'm gonna be for the next 30 years - a bloom where your platned idea.

12 October 2006

Preaching Harder than It Looks

Preaching Harder than It Looks
Bine Pluff, Arkansas
Published by Theobilly

Last night during revival at the Pleasant View Baptist Church the Rev. Frederick Sparks had to call on Deacon Don Gunoe for relief for a full four minutes until his "preaching cramps" subsided. This was not the first time Deacon Gunoe had to fill in for the injury proned Rev. Sparks, just last month Deacon Gunoe completed communion and delivered three benedictions.

Rev. Sparks, a great preacher when he is healthy, blames his cramps on the lack of proper air circulation in the sanctuary and brackish water in his drinking cup in the pulpit. But congregants have other opinions. Sister Marybeth Wiley thinks his cramps have to do with "all of that pork fat he chews on Sunday morning." While Brother James Wilbur surmises, "if he would just go in the pulpit with more than index cards and finish the sermon on Thursday I bet those cramps would miracously disappear." Whatever the root cause, Rev. Sparks has hired Susan Becklewith of Enhancement Sporting to be present during his preaching engagements over the next two months.

"It is often assumed that the pastoral life is nothing more than sitting on your rump, eating pie and gabbing with parishioners. There is a lot of truth to that," confessed Rev. Sparks. But, he added, "you try preaching with to all those sleepy and empty faces and see if that doesnt cause some kind of psychological cramping."

Creation Care

Last night's Moyers on America program on PBS asked the question Is
God Green?
I watched the show with some trepidation because I
read that part of the show would focus onMTR (Mountain Top Removal) in
West Virginia. It was with great delight to hear the enthusiasm
expressed by the evangelical community'snew found commitment for the
environment. I have always thought they would make better stewards of
the earth than most liberals. Why? Simple, a goal of evangelical
religion is the conversion of souls, people whodont have to worry about
the air they breathe, the water they drink and the earth their food
comes from are in a better spot to consider conversion, thus the an
imperative for environmental stewardship. Also, if the earth is a
better place to live and will be secure for future generations then
there will be future Christians. Simple logic if you ask me.

Moyers, when he produced NOW did a wonderful piece on MTR in WV. Click here to read the transcript.

Links worth exploring:

West Virginia Highlands Conservancy
Christians for the Mountains
Ohio Valley Environmental Council

Any of these organizations have great links and resources to inform you on the current mountain tragedy.

11 October 2006

Surprising Resources

This Fall I began a sermon series based on the Apostles' Creed. So far it has gone well. I try to spend a day or two a month up at the ANTS Library, they grant Ministers in Vicinity free access to their books (up to 10 books at one time). I generally keep the books several days after they are due and rationalize my fee payments as contributions to the life of the library (I should get a tax record for this) By the way, the NYTimes produced a great piece on clergy housing this morning.

I found two surprisingly useful books for preaching on the creed. Credo by Karl Barth and The School of Charity by Evelyn Underhill. I am finding these resources as genuine gold mines for thoughts and ideas.

My impetus for this series was a break from the lectionary and a time for some more forthright theological reflection in preaching. It has been a challenge seeing the good news in the statements, but very rewarding. This sermon series has given me the chance to preach on the Christian Year without the trappings of the season; meaning I can talk about Christ's birth in a manner free from the hoopla of Christmas, I will preach on resurrection this week without the pressure and oddness of Easter morning.

The series has also been a good method for teaching basic Christian beliefs to the congregation. I feel a teaching ministry is a good avenue for the living of these days.

10 October 2006

A Joyful Hike

This time of year arouses the need
to be in the woods. I used to use this time for adventuresome armed
hikes, aka hunting. But I'm not ready to take #1 and #2 on an armed
hike for some time. So we headed in the van and drove about 20 minutes
northward to Purgatory Chasm, the remains of the destruction caused by
a glacier melt around 30,000 years ago. The kids had a blast climbing
on the rocks, peeking in the holes and just being outdoors.

But the weekend wasn't finished, we needed a pumpkin.

We love going to the pick-your-own farms but this article in Slate I found a good corrective to this phenomena.

05 October 2006

Perhaps Games are Legit

I have always thought that most football games, from high school to
pro, have predetermined winners. Take the 1991 lost to Milton. We had a
10-7 lead with less than a minute to go and Milton was moving toward
the end zone. As the clock ran out and the whistled blew declaring an end to the game the Milton team snapped the ball, the quarterback
took the snap and handed it off to the fullback, the fullback ran
toward the line of scrimmage and was picked up by the halfback and the
tumbled into the end zone , scored the winning touchdown. The loss gave
us a 7-3 record and a dismal ranking for the playoffs. As the refs ran
off the field, a now medical doctor in South Carolina, ran parallel to
them with two middle fingers shouting expeltives to them. (That
doctor is now an outstanding member of his church, father of two girls
and I can imagine a fine doctor.)

But the events of last night when Marshall lost to UCF 22-23 made me reconsider the legitimacy of the sport. This was Marshall's first CUSA game of the year, nationally televised on ESPN2, Matthew McConaughey
on the sidelines, special viewing of the movie, We Are Marshall, at
halftime and the Budweiser Clydesdales you cant lose a game with all of that going on. But they did!

04 October 2006

Lincoln Residents Prepare for Serious Compunction

Lincoln Residents Prepare for Serious Compunction
by Theobilly
Published October 4, 2006

Lincoln, RI

The residents of Lincoln, RI, the small idyllic New England village, finally came down from a two week high when the members of the Ecumenical Ministers Union agreed to the aribitration proposal offered by Congregational Management. "I made more in the last two weeks than I did in all of last year." The comment from bartender/owner Richard Tucker of the Cold Mug pretty much summed up the senitments from the entertainment business community: "I made more in the last two weeks than I did in all of last year."

The two weeks of licentousness, debauchery, drunkeness, carousing, and dissensions all began when negociations between the two sides came to a stand still. The Union wouldn't accept the mandatory 35 hour work week and Management wouldn't grant a renewal of country club memberships for clergy. The stand-still brought a general strike on the evening of Saturday, September 23.

Parishoners woke up the following Sunday morning only to find churches closed and the Eucharist firmly locked in their respective sacristies. "We thought the absence of worship of word and sacrament on Sunday morning would really make them cave. I guess we grossly underestimated our people." said Rev. Eugene Moderatelyboring.

Upon finding the doors to the church locked and the absence of Confessions of Prayer the congregants of Lincoln, RI went on a sinning rampage. Everyone from the Town Administrator to the paperboy whopped it up for two weeks of, well...extreme fun, until the agreement was signed late last night. The E.M.U. agreed to a 32 hour week and C.M. agreed to pay for memberships but will not cover alcohol.

Reaction in the town was noticably depressed at the announcement. Right when it appeared the E.M.U. had lost the upper hand they gained with the promise of an all-town joint service of compunction this Sunday at 10:00am on the grounds of Chase Farm. Each minister but his/her hands on the Good Book vowing sermons of constancy.

In closing a comment from Rene Hall, "Vegas here I come."

Happy 145th Sir Walter

Today is the 145th Birthday of Walter Rauschenbusch.

I first heard of Rauschenbusch as an undergrad at Marshall in an American Intellectual History course taught by David Duke (not the lunatic Louisana politician). I stored the name away then heard about him again in a Philosophy of Religion course at BTSR. The class whetted my appetite so I checked out The Rauschebusch Reader, with an introductory essay by Fosdick. That wasn't enough. So I went to my theology prof. and asked to do an independent study but she wasnt all that interested/didnt think I was ready. So Chad and I went to Dr. Doug Ottati at UTS-PSCE across the street and asked if he would be interested, indeed he was. So for a semester we read all of Rauschenbusch's main works and discussed them at lunch and once over dinner. That was a great experience that changed my life.

But that class still didnt satisfy me. I wanted more. So I transferred to Colgate Rochester Divinity School (now Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School). There I went around town and found the home he grew up in, the home he lived in as an adult, I walked down East Ave (like he did) from his home to the original spot of Rochester Theological School, I worked in the American Baptist Historical Archives so I could browse his notebooks, sermons, articles, letters, pictures and all the other Rauschenbusch artifacts (all of this material will be moving to Mercer University). I also read for another independent study, more broadly on the Social Gospel movement with Dr. Chris Evans (the author of the latest and best Rauschenbusch biography).

Rauschenbusch for me at first was a saving grace, a reason to stay baptist. He was a bonafide theologian from the baptist tradition. He also fueled the desire for social justice.

Odd that now I not quite sure what to make of him. I still admire him and am thankful for his life and work. Now I admire him for his synthesis of thought and his ability to forge an indigenous American theology. That seems to be missing in today's stuff.

If you decided to pick up some Rauschenbusch's work you will find the clarity and relative ease it is to read. He wrote theology for a broad auidence and wanted folk to be able to read it.

His major works are:
The Righteousness of the Kingdom
Christianity and the Social Order
Christianizing the Social Order
A Theology for the Social Gospel
Prayers of the Social Awakening
Unto Me
Dare We Be Christians?
The Social Principles of Jesus

Why I am a Baptist (instructions for a $1 reprint)

Excellent Secondary Sources
The Kingdom Is Always but Coming: A Life of Walter Rauschenbusch by Chris Evans
A Gospel for the Social Awakening ed by Benjamin Mays
Walter Rauschenbusch: Selected Writings ed. by Winthrop Hudson

There are more but that is a good start.

Thank you brother Walter.

Interesting familial ties: WR is the grandfather of Richard Rorty. WR's ggrandson is Paul Rauschenbusch, chaplain at Princeton University.

Couple of Church Related Links:
Rauschenbusch Center
Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries

Even Brian McLaren loves him

03 October 2006


The sun is haning around less this time of year, there is a chill in the air and the leaves are changing, thus nature announces time for changes. So I switch from cereal to oats, pilsner to oktoberfest, thin to flannel sheets and more meat than vegetables.

02 October 2006

In Need of a Worship Class

As my second and final year at BTSR came to a close in 1998 those who were graduating held a special chapel service. Those leading the service asked that those attending were to find someone who was special to them and go up and serve each other communion. Two by two folk went up and received communion. As the crowd wound down my best friend and I looked at each other, and without words said oh yeah. We went forward took communion, then with our backs to the "congregation" gave each other a hey Ace, then found our seat. (A hey Ace, recall the SNL cartoon Ace and Gary the Ambigiously Gay Duo, after the two did a good deed Ace would grab Gary's behind and say nice hey Ace, Ace would do the same to Gary.) Some found our action quite hilarious, upon finding our seat the preaching professor (now the dean at Gardner-Webb Divinity School) laughingly suggested that we get into a worship class.

In some ways I agreed with him. I love the give and take of liturgy and order of worship. I collect hymnals, special service plans and worship bulletins like churches collect coffee mugs. This Sunday was World Communion Sunday.

We have experimented with different forms of communion, the regular sit down and be served, intinction, and the form from yesterday: folk come up, tear a piece of bread, then take a cup from the tray, sit down and then we all take together. It was okay. Some liked it, some didnt.

My problem concerns the very act of communion, that it be a communal event and not strictly a private act. I am not sure any of the methods, either the ones here or elsewhere commuincate that. I feel the only way would be to have an actual meal, communal and festive. Need for a Worship class indeed.

27 September 2006

The "New" Sound of Johnny Cash

On Sunday a parishoner loaned me some country musis lps for my listening pleasure. One of records was The Sound of Johnny Cash, a Columbia Records recording that has yet to be released on cd (I doubt it will be, the Legacy recordings seem to be wrapped up).

The LP has significant resonance due to original recording of Delia's Gone. You may recall that Delia's Gone was the first single released from Unchained, the first American Recording session produced by Ric Rubin.

The original recording seems brighter than the Unchained version. It is isn't happy by no stretch of the imagination but not as dark and forceful.

side a
Lost on the Desert
Accidentally on Purpose
In the Jailhouse Now
Mr. Lonesome
You Won't Have to Go Far
In them Cottonfields Back Home

side b
Delia's Gone
I Forgot More than You'll Ever Know
You Remember Me
I'm Free from the Chain Gang Now
Let Me Down Easy
Sing it Pretty Sue

Over the course of two years I put together a rag tag stereo for under $15. A Pioneer Receiver for $3 at a church yard sale, a Fisher MT-640 turntable for $3 at another church yard sale, a free pair of bose speakers, and an old portable cd player that was a gift back in '96, for that I purchased a plug that goes from the headphone jack to the receiver. it aint the best, but works well in the office. I enjoy listening to vinyl, many selections I have are only on vinyl.

This afternoon I hope to listen to America Is Hard to Find by Daniel Berrigan and a rock mass by John Hostetter, Allan Sorwall, and David Turner.

25 September 2006


Last night while watching the Patriots-Broncos game I was astonished at the resemblance between Mike Shanahan and President Bush. However, the phrase coaching genius aint used everyday when referring to the president.

23 September 2006

The Resilient ibook

the ibook I use for this blog, regular internetting, email and sermon writing has proved its toughness once again on thursday night. Some of you may recall that this ibook survived a spill. On Thursday night I was holding #3, about to turn to the computer off, when he upchucked onto the keyboard. I knew the drill. I turned the ibook on its side and put it in front of the fan - turned on low.

20 September 2006

Dream #1

Ever since kindergarten, at least, I have wanted to have a urinal in my home. I almost had my father convinced of this idea, but never was able to. While at IKEA this weekend I was able to use not just a urinal but a waterless urinal. WOW, what an idea! I am now thinking of branching out and forming a new company that will install at home urinals, just think about a residental urinal publicly traded company!

Falwell Withdraws Sermon

Falwell Withdraws Sermon
Published September 20, 2006

Lynchburg, VA

The preaching community is an uproar over the findings of the American Standards for Biblical Preaching Committee. The ASBPC announced yesterday that the Rev. Gerald Falwell of Lynchburg, Va did indeed fail a drug test following Sunday's sermon. This is the first case in America of a pastor using sermon-enhancing drugs to bring more souls to Christ. Dr. Buttrick, head of the ASBPC, said "I have never seen post-sermonic levels this high of homeliticose in an American pastor."

Members of Falwell's congregation could not believe the findings. Roy Underwood, a 15 year member, stated "It was one of the best sermons I've ever heard." Interestingly Mr. Underwood, by Tuesday morning, said his memory of the sermon had pretty much dissipated.

Rev. Falwell has been unavailable for comment since the findings were released this morning. Members of the congregation expect him to make an aggressive public comment this afternoon.

19 September 2006

Reason for Jetblog

I wrote a couple weeks ago about the sale of the 1996 Ranger, it was indeed a sad day. The sale of that vehicle meant that I had to arrange for a trip back to WV to pick up my dad's old truck. So I happily purchased a $50 Southwest one way to Pittsburg, rented a car, and headed south on I-79. I made it back to mom's, loaded up the truck and headed back home. I hoped to make to RI in one day.

But I was tired! I made it to Harriburg to see Chad and Kelly with the hope of grabbing a bite to eat and then heading back on the interstate. I parked a couple of blocks away and walked down the street with Clarence in my arms. I knocked on their door with Clarence leaning in the door. This is Clarence:He was killed by my grandpa and stuffed by my great uncle.
Clarence always hung over my grandpa's desk, I thought it would make a nice addition to the office, nothing like a stuffed dear head to open you up to the presence of God.

The head phased Chad, but not by much, he is a PhD student afterall. Kelly suggested we eat at Cafe Fresco, nice place. We talked and talked and talked, went home, talked some more then retired to our beds. I love those two, great evening of catching up and hanging out with each other. The next morning I woke up early and headed out. I stopped by again at the Hershey Pantry to pick up some more of those muffins. (I was able to snap this shot shortly after I arrived in RI, I knew it would last in this state for long.)

I finally arrived back in RI. The family and the church hung in there while i was gone. The truck I picked up, a 1999 Toyota Tacoma with 200,000 miles.Dad did plenty of work on it. The truck runs great and doesn't look too bad. Dad never would buy a furein but once he drove a Toyota, worked on one, he was sold. He said he would never buy a GMC again after his conversion.

A New Definition of Hell

Imagine this situation: You are about to settle in to watch a great football game, you got some cold beer, hotwings, potato skins, etc. When all of a sudden your signigicant other enters the room and says honey can you help me for a moment to assemble some IKEA furniture.

Saturday morning we packed up the gang and went to IKEA to purchase bedroom furniture. This isnt our usual purchasing routine, but with the sale of the Saturn we figured we at least deserved a bed frame, bedside tables and a couple of chests. So we go, buy it then loaded into the back of the truck. Here it is: 100s of lbs of flatpacked, triple consonantal, assembly required hell:

07 September 2006

Over and Out Good Buddy

This morning at approximately 8:20 I sold my 1996 Ford Ranger. After dad died mom gave me his truck, a 1999 Toyota Tacoma, with the precondition that whatever I sell my Ranger for would go towards pop's funeral costs. No problemo.

When I graduated from college my great aunt gave me a few bucks to put toward the purchase of a new vehicle. I decided on the 1996 Ford Ranger XLT, 2WD 4 cylinder. The crummy salesman scrambled all over the place when i showed him my $400 graduation credit Ford passed out. He got me though, paint hardner. Oh well, I was 21 and didnt know anything.

After all that I drove it home, while going up the hill to my house, I swerved off the road to avoid an oncoming truck. I went off the road and hit a chunck of vertical driveway - bending the aluminum wheel and popping the tire.

Other than that the truck never gave me any problems. Changed oil, fluids, filters regular, tires once and brakes once, only had to put power brake lines on.

So long good buddy. You were a great truck. I'll miss ya.

05 September 2006

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Finally, after months of inactive typing I produced a typed manuscript for the sermon this past Sunday. It felt good to preach this.

When I went back to WV a couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to ponder the differences between church life there and church life here. It hit me that many issues down there arent issues up here: what you wear to church, drinking and a cursing preacher. I occassionaly will let colorful language fly from the pulpit. Yeah this place is really something. Here is the sermon, with hyperlinks, from Sunday.

I Believe…
text: “Why do your disciples not live according the tradition of the elders?” Matt. 7:5
Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 3, 2006
Deuteronomy 6:1-3 & Mark 7:1-23

The Pharisees and some the scribes tried to entrap Jesus in the seventh chapter of Mark. Everyone knew what they were up to, their desire was written all over their faces from their clever grins to their expectant eyes.

For months an uneducated-redneck from the mountains of Galilee had been humiliating the religious establishment by overturning their schemes and exposing them for the buffoons they were.

But this time the religious professionals really thought they had Jesus this time. Just like Wild E. Coyote, they purchased the latest fool-proof ACME gadget. They just knew their ingenious question, Hey Jesus come your disciples don’t live according to the tradition of the elders? would back Jesus into a corner he could not escape. In their eyes, once their question was posed, it was all over but the squirming. They asked their question, they set their trap, and in their own way hid behind the rock in anticipation of their gotcha moment.

Jesus walked right into their trap, he took the seed laying in the middle of the road and gobbled it by agreeing to participate in their little scheme. He opened his mouth and sounded off his own Beep, Beep by quoting Isaiah and exposing their erroneous interpretation of Moses.

Can you imagine their reaction? Can you hear them screaming No, No, No, this wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. You weren’t supposed to trap us. What was supposed to be a fool-proof Jesus trap ended up trapping the Pharisees and some of the scribes. The Pharisees and some scribes, instead of trapping Jesus, found themselves falling off the proverbial cliff in anticipation of causing a small puff of dust once they land. This wasn’t their first attempt to trap Jesus and it wouldn’t be their last, they would live to trap another day.

We can imagine them walking off with their tales tucked beneath their legs wondering where did they go wrong? How come their fool-proof trap failed? How did that hick with more than a questionable pedigree foil their plan again? In their minds they set Jesus up with a fantastic equation: Jesus’ disciples didn’t wash their hands before meals. No one could argue against a 4,000 year old ritual the children of Abraham performed. The act religiously and socially defined them as Jews. If Jesus taught this then surely he was teaching false doctrine. Gotcha Jesus.

With this perfect setup we can picture them all asking the question, cracking their knuckles, tapping their fingers in a waving motion like Mr. Burns and saying “excellent.” By employing some savvy biblical interpretation and some astute historical analysis of Moses Jesus ripped the rug their argument stood on out from under them and wrapped them in it like a franks-n-jacket.

This morning we begin a sermon series on the Apostle’s Creed, the oldest and most accepted Creed of Christianity. The Creed more than any other statement established orthodoxy, correct belief, for Christianity.

It may seem odd and even contradictory for a Baptist preacher to focus on the Apostle’s Creed for a sermon series. Since 1525, after all, we have steadfastly fought against the use of creeds. We are marked by our own inconsistent and contradictory statement: our one creed is that we have no creed. Since our emergence on the Continent and the England, the plantations of the South, the frontier of Appalachia and so on we have been a particular people wishing to share our stories rather than our beliefs. We have practiced a religion of the heart more than a religion of the head. We have valued our religious affections more than our religious doctrines. Suffice to say that the Apostle’s Creed is not only odd ground it is plain foreign and perhaps even toxic!

From Roger Williams onwards we have repeatedly stood for religious liberty. We grant and fight for the right of each and every person not only to walk to the edge of heresy but to jump on over if it will enable them to commune with God, to find Christ’s liberation and fully experience the Holy Spirit. Our commitment to religious liberty can lead us, without fully comprehending, lead us into an awkward predicament whereby we have granted each so much freedom that we can forget/lose touch with the God we are seeking.

Baptists, correctly, rejected the use of creeds as a means to legitimate Christian belief and membership. They did not reject the teaching quality of creeds. They did not reject the center and focus of the Apostle’s Creed: God in Jesus Christ. They did not reject the peculiar life and unique story of God in Jesus Christ.

You’ve heard some say: once you’re saved you do anything you want, i.e., it doesn’t matter what you do just as long as you believe. You’ve heard it said it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you act right. These simple and opposing casual statements are both wrong. It does matter what we believe and it does matter how we act.

Which came first in your life: action or belief? Were you initially moved to Christianity by someone’s graceful actions? Or were you initially moved by someone’s words? Did a story from the Bible set you off or did a prayer by a neighbor?

Belief and Action are intimately entwined, no matter how much we try we cannot separate them. Our goal as Christians is to seek a balance, a transparency where faith and works constantly build one another. We act because we believe, we believe because we act. We don’t chase our tails by this action but journey to create a deeper and more authentic Christian life.

When Jesus turned the table on the Pharisees and some of the scribes he didn’t favor actions over belief or belief over actions. He was correcting bad belief and bad actions. Talk about correct belief and action and bad belief and action should raise some cautious flags. But rest assured brothers and sisters we were not entrusted with the job of judgment. We are here to help one another on our pilgrimage to God, but we’re not here to judge. The boundary, as Baptists, between heresy and orthodoxy, is like trying to say an 80mph pitch is fastball or off-speed pitch. Now if someone is a pain, then yeah we probably should say something. Indeed our lives will reflect our beliefs…

We are here to create deeper and more authentic Christians. We are here to develop transparent lives where faith and action are blissfully married. Jesus’ closing words reveal that we don’t have to judge, the fruits of our beliefs will reveal our centeredness on God.

The Apostle’s Creed offers us a springboard for centering on God in Jesus Christ. The Creed offers us the opportunity to, not only hear, but to proclaim for ourselves the good news. Believing in the God we worship does matter, our belief will change our minds, our hearts. Our belief in this God will change our lives.

The Apostle’s Creed at its heart, is a confession, a proclamation, a testimony, an offering of faith. The Creed will not exhaust the contents of our faith, it is only a beginning – rather it points to the God whom we have sought and found, it points us to the God whom has sought and found us. That is the good news, a confession about the God who has sought and found us.

Credo, I believe…

26 August 2006

Changes to the Roster

Today I assigned All THings Anglican to my AA affiliate in Elmira, NY. ATA just didnt seem to have what it takes for the day-to-day demands of blogging. I hope there in upstate, NY he will work on his ideas and abilities with the hope of rejoining us before the playoffs.

I also added two to the lineup that I think will strengthen the team:

Alien Nation
, a blog from an ABC colleague here in Rhode Island and tntluoma, the webpage/blog of another colleague (non-ABC - PCUSA dude) who lives and works on the banks of mid-Ohio River.


SA wins season opener

I was pleased to see that the good ole St. Albans Dragons beat the South Charleston Eagles in its season opener. My senior year, in 92 (well actually 91) we lost to SC in overtime 21-20. We went on to a 7-3 regular season, but lost to Barboursville in the first round of AAA playoffs.

While in WV last week I found a flyer, I suppose, I created on the computer. It was a gray sheet of paper printed out by a dot matrix machine that read, Come see the Dragons slay the East Bank Pioneers, while at the game come see your favorite player, left tackle #60, play. Vain and narcisistic, even at the age of 16.

During two-a-days practices the coach, the late Stan Smith, commented that several sophmores were complaining that they weren't getting any playing time. So coach asked for those Sophmores who were 16 to raise their hands, a flurry of hands went up in the air. Coach then said guess what, the center, a Senior is 16, and theobilly is even younger than him, I too was only 16 as a Senior. I guess the amount of 16 year old Sophomores doesnt bode well for the Kanawha County Education system.

25 August 2006

A Piece of Family History

Our trip back to WV went smooth. Like I said eariler I spent a lot of my time working. I was fortunate to work so much, it kept my mind off the present reality that Pop was no longer around. I spent the majority of my time with Pop when we went to WV. We would go fishing, hunting, eating, driving, see old friends, and all kinds of stuff. So to go home and have him not there was a bit overwhelming.

I guess my job now is to be the teller of the family story. Pop was interested but not that much, my great aunt Artie was much more interested.

Our family history tells the story of three brothers traveling from Scotland to Viriginia in 1603. They settled there for about a hundred years then packed up and moved to Ablemarle County, then to Harlan County then finally to Upshur County in WV. First they came to Sago, then mosied on over to Ten Mile. There they built this house:

It was the family homeplace for a good number of generations, till the Allen Creek Coal Company found coal underneath it. The company bought up the community. Artie stayed as long as she could, but the blasts from the mining shattered the windows.

The homeplace

Incisor - Release

Yesterday after much anxiety and consternation, one of #1's bottom incisor released. It is her first tooth to be freed. She found the pushing out with tongue method to be the most effective.

23 August 2006

Language Lessons

#1's new words

1. whisker basket
2. tink top
3. skoutgo pants

Once in St. Albans

The family and I packed up a bunch of suitcases, car seats, snacks and other essentials and flew to West Virginia last week. For some odd reason the flight to HTS was $110 cheaper per ticket than the flight to CRW, go figure. Even though I lived in Huntington for three years I didnt even know where the airport was. HTS is a tiny airport, with 5 daily outbound flights, but fit our needs just fine.

Once out and into the rental vehicle we stopped by Frostop for lunch, you cant beat window service, the best root beer around, three burgers and fries for $9.00! We drove around MU to see some changes then headed back to the Kanawha Valley.

THe families were pleased to see #3 and #2 and #1 were happy to see grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins.

My time was spent mostly working. Mom and I went to the County Courthouse to Probate the will, over to Taylor books for browsing (on the way a woman was hanging out her window about to jump, she didnt) over to Ellen's for ice cream. Next day I took out some kitchen cabinets, then put a new ceiling in - great fun. If you havent had the opportunity to put a new drop ceiling in you should.

On Saturday I took the two oldest nephews to see the Green and White game (also stopped by Frostop again). The way the first team offense played I predict the WVU-MU game will favor WVU by at least three touchdowns - youch!

Yesterday we packed up again and headed back to HTS. The skycap dude remembered us. Finally we arrived back in Lincoln, RI.

The trip was very odd, life and the homeplace without Pop. Whenever I went in I spent almost all my time with him. I looked through old photos, went through his tools, talked to some of his friends and thought about how much I miss the son of a bitch.

11 August 2006

Fun with Numbers

Yesterday #3 went #1 on #2. #2 wanted to know if #3 would do it again.

10 August 2006

Church of the Month

This month's edition of the Alliance of Baptists Newsletter features a fascinating article on a church in Lincoln, RI; there are even live action shots of the pastor!

Go here to read and view.

08 August 2006

A Few Things to Share

#1. The other day I took the kids to the ANTS library with me so mom could get some rest, once there I learned that kids were not welcomed in the library. So we went over to the bookstore to get a hymnal (Common Ground). There #1 saw all kinds of pictures of Jesus on book covers and crosses and the like. She asked me: Daddy why was Jesus nailed on the cross? (I have answered this I dont know how many times, so) I said I dont know you tell me. Her answer: So he wouldnt fall off. Good answer I thought.

#2. The foil ball will continue.

#3. It seems there is an overabundance of the phrase, "If you will."