20 June 2007

Some Good News

I always rely on one thing when it comes to politics: just when it seems every elected official has lost their head, they will always bicker.

The bickering of the US Senate yesterday meant that the coal-to-liquid fuel deal will not be a part of the Energy Legislation.

Ken Ward reports on the affairs yesterday.
The Washington Post accounts it this way.

14 June 2007

Doesnt Look too Good

I try to stay on top of coal related issues as best I can via the web. The convergence of a couple of stories trouble me.

1. A couple of weeks ago the NYTimes reported that several legislators (including Obama) were supporting a new deal for coal to liquid fuel proposal. The armed services were hoping to sign a long term contract for fuel derived from coal.

Roanoke Times at least wrote about this, didnt catch any other papers in Appalachia (or anywhere else for that matter.

2. The supreme court ruling on the Clean Water Act of U.S. vs. Atlantic Research Corp.

This ruling prompted Gov. Joe Manchin to order the DEP to cut back the number of streams protected by the Clean Water Act.

There is some hope. Judge Chambers continues to issue forthright and clear rulings on the proper enforcement of laws pertaining to Mountain Top Removal.

05 June 2007

Keeping Sermons Fresh

The Lime Rock Congregation is a good bunch to preach with/to. They are attentive, ask good questions afterward (even during on occasion) and seem to appreciate the time I take on crafting a well written, researched and delivered sermon. They especially want my preaching to remain fresh; they encourage my continuing studies, furnish a handsome book allowance and give me ample time during the week to myself to study and write.

A couple years ago they took their devotion to quality sermons to a new level: they bought furnished my renovated office with a window air conditioner. I was happy with a fan and the window opened, this is New England after all and not Miami, FL. But no, they wanted fresh preaching. Alright I say.

Today the Tuesday before Children's Sunday is the official installation date, today it fit like a glove.

03 June 2007

Trinity/Turtle Sunday

An actual typed script for Sunday, the 1st for a good while.

As we engage on our fifth year together, I am sure you have noticed my tendency not to worry too much about details: church runs over a bit, meetings shifted, balanced budget, order of service shuffled, the exact location of something, a deadline stretched by a day, or month, etc. You can see this in much of my life, when plants get planted, rooms get cleaned, stuff gets made, etc. My lackadaisical attitude towards most things in life could resonant that I don’t care too much about lots of stuff. Take today for example: Trinity Sunday. This is a day of recollection, a day to summarize the great celebrations and teachings of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. Each holy day celebrates one intimate expression of who God is: Christmas, Jesus’ birth; Easter, God’s resurrection of Jesus; and Pentecost the day God’s Spirit is poured out on the Church. Each holy days creates some time and space to reflect on God’s self-disclosures as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each day and each season paints a picture of God for us that either illuminates our own dear pictures of God that were forming while we were in our mother’s womb or deconstructs our pictures of what we thought were our dear pictures of God. For centuries the Church of Jesus Christ has rigorously defended the doctrine of the Trinity. As Baptists our spiritual DNA simply will not let us simply assent to ideas, theories and doctrines passed down from on high. We are naturally suspicious of “official doctrines” and teachings from folk who say this is the what you have to believe in order to be a Christian, that dog wont hunt.

For all intents and purposes you could place the official doctrine of the Trinity into the file marked not all that important to me. Whether you believe, accept or wrestle with the belief in the Holy Trinity aint what I’m about and for us this morning it aint why we are here. What I do hold sacred is not the doctrine of the Trinity but the God who inspired women and men from all over the Christian world in the 4th century of the common era to meet and develop the doctrine. The nitty gritty of this day is to have your own soul sparked and ignited with an experience of God that is so volatile that your life is changed, forever.

This morning we all have hearts that are broken, wounds so deep that we are too scared to even approach them, our minds are elsewhere right now there is a war going on that is not only troubling but terrible, a war with no end or good news in sight; our minds are elsewhere as we silently mourn deaths both days and years ago; our minds are elsewhere with the words of diagnosis that cause us to wonder if there will or will not be a tomorrow.

Nah, we aint got time to ponder the Trinity; its history or bizarre formulaic presumptions of homoousia or homoosia. We are here to get to the heart of matter: the fueling idea behind the Trinity – God, the creator of heaven and earth, the creator of you and me and how in the world we are gonna be in relationship with that God. How are we gonna get right with God?

Many folk get to this point and miserable fail: poor pitiful me, what in the world could God find good in me, why in the world would God wanna have me in company? Indeed, it is a position worth considering but the Bible wont let us go down that road, that bird wont fly.

Can you imagine King David, the Elvis of his time, sitting down to write Psalm 8? Can you imagine him after royally screwing up and asking what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Good questions to ask, ones that we never get an appropriate answer to all we know is that God does. God refers to us both as God’s children and as God’s artistic creation. God has invested the God’s essence and creative power to create us. We are the delight of God’s eye but for some reason we forget this and live otherwise.

A reflection on the three great holy days reveal a God who is throwing everything and the kitchen sink attempting to get our attention, to shake us up and down to tell us over and over again that we are God’s children, that we are God’s creation and please get to know me!

Getting to know God aint hard, difficult but not hard. Slowly chewing on the scriptures with lection divinia aint hard, but it is difficult to commit to it a few times a week. It aint hard to pray, but it is difficulty to make time for prayer. It aint hard to fast, but it is difficult to give up a meal for God. It aint hard to offer hospitality, but it is difficult dealing with the occasional odd ball or but it is difficult moving from strangers to friends. Being a Christian aint hard “Jesus said my yoke is easy and my burden is light” – but can there be a non difficult yoke or a non difficult burden? Being a Christian aint hard but living out Christ’s call to follow him is difficult.

It is difficult because to follow Christ means that we gotta change, adapt and transform our lives. God didn’t create us and all of life both terrestrial and celestial to simply bless the status quo; God didn’t freely chose to come as Jesus to simply bless the say hey y’all are doing great; and God certainly didn’t pour out his Spirit upon us so that we could live lives free of change, repentance, mending, forgiveness and reconciliation (all of which are foreign tongues in our culture today).

The God we seek and worship cares too much for us to continue to bless our current ways. God did chose to reveal himself in such creative ways as creator, redeemer and sustainer so that we could live the blues all of our days. God desires to take the blues of our lives and counter them with hope. Our lives have caused us to develop the damaging condition of hard headed hearts, but God wants to tenderize them. No doubt about it we have good reasons for our hard headed hearts we’ve experienced too much loss, pain, suffering. Our lives have caused us to give up on God, but God has never given up on us; God’s faith in us never ceases.

The practice of the classic spiritual disciplines revive our souls of God’s constant presence. They cause our souls to remember the God who created, the God who sent his Son and the God who poured out his Spirit on us. The final practice is that of a rule of life. You have in bulletin a small business card. I want you to use it to write down the rock bottom truth about God’s love for you. That’s your rule for life! Keep it with you at all times, because you will forget it. One day when the sun refuses to shine on your life your gonna need this rule. But don’t just write it down, put in your wallet and go on with life. Pray your rule everyday, repeat it over and over. You gotta move it from short term to long term memory, from long-term memory to down to your heart, from your heart till it takes up residence in your soul.

This rule aint a philosophical diatribe, but for your right now the life-giving word for you. This is your witness to how the God of the universe, the very ultimate reality has touched you, found you and saved you. It is a testament of the God who is constantly reaching out to you. This rule is your good news, it is born out of joy and pain, your loss and life, your faith in God and God’s faith in you.

Now for the Turtle part. Yesterday this big mama snapping turtle crossed our yard at least three times searching for a place to lay her eggs. Finally this morning she found a place in my neighbor's yard. Here she is yesterday crawling around in our yard:

01 June 2007

Pentecost Feast, ii

Seeing that we were exhausted, run down & over-beefed, we decided to have red bean gumbo.

I Feel a Swarmin' Comin' On

Sometime Tuesday night it got just a little too close for comfort in the parsonage hive. So they split, swarmed and collected on a locust tree till the scout bees found a new suitable abode.
(i still cant figure out how to rotate pictures on blogger. oh well)

My guess is that is around 3,000-4,500 bees.