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.