29 September 2007

At Least St. Albans is Undefeated...

The St. Albans High School football team, my alma mater, is currently 6-0; they beat Greenbrier East last night 28-12. The WVU team, however, lost again to South Florida. I was able to watch the game online with ESPN360. I wished someone would have told me about this free service sooner. Meanwhile the Marshall team is waiting to move from the defeated to the win column when they face Memphis on Tuesday evening (to be aired also on ESPN360.

Did anyone pay attention to Huckabee's comments on the Iraq War yesterday? The guy continues to impress me.

If you didn't listen to the On Point program Wednesday on John Coltrane, you really need to; well worth your time and energy.

Today we are off to climb Mount Wachusett, after #1 comes back from stepdancing class. Right now it is a boys day inside, as #2 calls it.

Anglobaptist has posted his thoughts
from a recent seminary conference. Looks like some good stuff worth chewing on.

25 September 2007

Well, Well...


24 September 2007

Harvesting, Harvesting, Harvesting

Over the weekend we, myself, #1 and #2 and the child of the people who have the chickens down the road, harvested potatoes. Actually, I harvested 85% of them, after 10 minutes the help bolted. However, the kid from down the road may very well be the most natural burrower I have ever seen.

We harvested about 50lbs. One of my greatest farming moments came 6 years ago when I grew monstrous potatoes, they were double the size of Ron's. I don't think he cared too much for me rubbing him about it.

I also went next door and stood on the top of my truck and picked apples from the neighbors trees, yes I had permission. I filled up a recycle bin of them, about 50lbs. I made a half gallon of cider. Good stuff, very tart. Back home we had four apple trees and we never sprayed them, sure they were imperfect and occasionally had a worm, but no big deal. The other day I showed the kids a worm in an apple, they never knew worms lived in apples. I'll take imperfections and worms any day over chemical pesticides!

This morning before work I went out to prepare the hive for robbing. I put a trap underneath the bottom super, the bees go down but cant go back up into the supers. But, there was no honey, tons of bees though. On the one hand it is a pain to harvest honey, but on the other hand it is quite a joy. Sad not to do it this year. Although the bacon lady will be glad that I am not ruining another bowl!

Tonight I was trying out the a/v conferencing feature on the ole macbook. As the chat started I noticed the doll in the background, take a look for yourself:
I think I may put the bacon lady's scary doll in its place for the conference. The bacon lady has one doll her mother made that scares me to death. It is now in #1's room and it can stay there.

23 September 2007

An Actual Sermon

The past two weeks I have went behind the pulpit with a typed manuscript but preached a more than slightly different sermon. (That never happens).

This morning was different. It was an ideal Sunday. Woke up, went for a walk, stopped by Bucci's for an egg, cheese and bacon on a crossiant with a side of homefries. Came home got ready and went to the church.

Here is the sermon I preached:

But Now Am Found
The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
Luke 15:11-24
text: “But when he came to himself…” (Luke 15:17)

God is described in the Bible sometimes as near or immanent (such as the time when God walked in the garden with Adam and Eve) sometimes God is described as far away or transcendent (such as the time when Jesus was on the cross and screamed My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me?) I am sure that the majority if not all of us experience the latter instead of the former. Curiously the biblical narrative does not reveal a forward approaching God but a retreating God. Odd then that God continues to search us out.

Despite God’s hidden nature God in all of God’s great Godness is trying to find you and me right now and at all points in our lives. You and I are precious creatures in the eyes of God, so precious that God spends the majority of the day rummaging around for us. How God searches for us is a mystery. We imagine it is quiet, unnoticed, disguised and covert ways. We may not know how God searches for us, but rest assured we all know what it feels like when God finds us.

Howard Thurman, a 20th century Baptist who wrote on spiritual practices, once described God as a shy God. God almost seems shy about throwing God’s Godness around. God, instead, stands behind a tree and peeks out. But when God peeks out and God’s eyes meet our eyes – life is never the same.

Whomever the writer(s) of the 3rd Gospel were, we’ll never know. We do know that he/she/they were fantastic at the craft of writing. The gospel of Luke blurs the line between poetry and prose. Only in Luke do we find the song of Mary (known as the Magnificat), the song of Zechariah (known as the Benedictus) both sources of scripture the church has used for morning and evening prayer. Only in Luke do we find perhaps the two best-known gospel stories: the parable of the Good Samaritan and the parable of the Prodigal Son. The author of Luke knew how to retell the stories of Jesus in an original and memorable way; so that even today most folk in the western world could repeat the main thrust of these stories.

A younger son asks his Father for his share of the inheritance, it was an odd request for that time but not unheard of. It was assumed that the son would go off and invest his share, later on returning with a greater portion. Our character apparently didn’t receive that memo, he did the exact opposite – he lived the high life until the bill collectors came calling; when he came a-knocking he hired on as a pig feeder.

But one day he came to himself…

Only after he had lost his identity as his father’s son “I am no longer worthy to be called your son;” after he lost his identity as an ethnic Jew for he hired on as a pig feeder rather than sought out help from the roughly 4.5 millions Diaspora Jews living in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern world; and only after he lost his identity as a religious Jew for he chose to work in the muck and mire of the pig, for even though it has divided hoofs and is cleft footed, it does not chew cud; it is unclean to you. Only after his familial, ethnic and religious identities were gone did he come to his senses, did he come to himself.

In July 1945 a group of conspirators in Germany sought to assassinate Hitler. One member of the group was none other than Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran theologian and pastor. He had started his career as one who stressed the importance of Christian practices and Christian discipleship, what many have called radical discipleship. So the question many ask is how did a student and practitioner of nonviolence become associated with a plot to kill the F├╝hrer? James McClendon, a Baptist thinker, looked at Bonhoeffer’s life and proposed that his family, country and church failed him. All three had been destructively woven into Hitler’s crazed plan for world domination. When Bonhoeffer was stripped of his religious, ethnic and familial identity he didn’t find his true self but his false self. Only in prison, as he awaited his execution did he “find himself” and produced perhaps one of the greatest church documents of the 20th century, Letters and Papers from Prison. In his letters to his best friend and finance we read about a man who was found by God. In the concentration camps he was shuffled around in God peeked around the corner, God’s eyes met his and life was never the same.

Last week in the New York Times a story ran with the headline: Life Changes, With a Latte to Go. It was a story about Michael Gates Gill a 67-year-old former advertising agent. He lived a privileged aristocratic New York life up until he was 63. That year he was diagnosed with brain tumor. He was unemployed, divorced and the woman whom he had an affair with left him and he was without insurance. He lost everything.

One day he was sitting in a Starbucks when the manager asked him if he wanted a job. He agreed and he loves working there. The story reads, “To his astonishment he realized he was happier than he had ever been. He loves the comradrie of his fellow workers and folk who patronize the store. He lives in a small apartment furnished with plastic patio furniture, serves hot caffeinated drinks and he is the happiest he has ever been.

Sometimes it takes extreme experiences for us to come to ourselves. Sometimes it takes years of tenderizing our hardened hearts before God peeks out from behind a tree, but when it happens everything changes.

So the younger son, the one who found himself, set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father filled with compassion, he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.

The son was found by his father, and everything changed. I love it when our current president goes to Texas and delivers a press conference. He walks up to the podium with his chest out and arms to his side as if he is ready to draw out two six shooters and save the day. But think how odd it would be if we saw President Bush run, not in a sporting manner. But what if we saw him run, we would think there is some danger. There is a level of machismo present today that was present in Jesus’ day, men do not run, they do not wear shorts, they do not drive cars, they are not vegetarians, they do not have manicures and they do not allow for public displays of emotions. But the father in our story dismissed all social conventions and ran to his son, gave him a robe, a ring and sandals. The father elevated him to a higher place then when he left. When we are found, everything changes…

The Christian life, the Christian journey, is not a one-stop trek. We are not found only once, but we are constantly found, and found again, over and over and over. It is a process of deeper and deeper conversions, healings and findings. Yet each time we are found by God we are changed and healed and our lives are never the same.

God maybe shy, but God wants to throw a party for you. We do not have to hit rock bottom and have all of our certainties stripped away. In fact by being a part of a church we are doing just the opposite, we are forming a new family, a new identity based on God’s love, grace and kingdom. You just have to look and say Yes – yes things do need to change, I need to be found by God.

22 September 2007

More than I Would've Thought

My blog is worth $3,387.24.
How much is your blog worth?

I would have priced it somewhere along the lines of 1/100th of a cent; slightly more than a dish washing detergent coupon.

Thanks to Ye Ole AngloBaptist for the link.

Wife's New Name

In preparation for the arrival of Dr. Burg a couple of weeks ago my wife bought two pounds of bacon. The butcher looked up at her ad said, "That's a lot of bacon." Of course we gobbled it all up. When she went this week she ordered another order, somewhere between one and one and a half pounds. The same butcher was working; he looked up at her and said, "I remember you, you're THE BACON LADY."

The Bacon Lady, what a title!

I found this blog this morning, The Bacon Show: A Different Bacon Recipe Everyday.

21 September 2007

Friday, no clever title

Up and down week, currently all is settled and well.

Fiddle classes started back up. The class went well, I could tell I hadn't practiced any over the summer. Practicing this week, however, has gone quite well.

I also started a class, With Head and Heart: The Writings of Howard Thurman at ANTS. The class went well.Thurman was a graduate of then Rochester Theological Seminary. He had a tremendous impact on three generations of clergy, peace activists, and folk on the spiritual journey; yet he hardly garners the respect and attention he deserves. When I was at CRDS, the school marked his 100th birthday with a lecture and the dedication the Thurman Room. This year's H.T. lecture will be delivered by J. Alfred Smith. A theologian of his significance should have had a room named after him long before then!

When I first read the majority of his writings I didnt think there was much there (which says more about me than Thurman). But a couple years ago I visited him again and found words jumping off the pages and a depth of inquiry and thought. Thurman had something to say that is worth your time and worthy of deep study. I look forward to a systematic and critical survey of writing corpus.

One more note about Thurman. I have long held the thought that liberalism needs reformation. I do not think the reformation needs to come from the outside but the resources are within its tradition. Thurman offers a life and a body of writings that could go a long way towards birthing some new life into mainline Protestantism. Why Thurman? He shows the way to the deep river of Christianity. It appears that mainliners are catching onto this need, but it is a tragedy that folk are not taking serious look at Thurman.

Some Thurman Links:

Wikipedia's Entry
PBS documentary
Howard Thurman Film Project Their link section has several fruitful journeys.

15 September 2007

Comin' Back Around Again

Yesterday I went over to Always on Sale to get some pants fitted. Now when I left the house I thought I looked presentable, not fantastic but presentable; when I came out of the dressing room to have the tailor take a look at me (under their bright lights and in front of the three mirrors), however, I looked liked I crawled out of bed. I think I will always advocate low lighting.

Yesterday Roman Numeral I took #2 and #3 apple picking, here are some highlights:Macs are in now but soon and very soon Baldwins and Macons will be in!

In seminary I took a good number of independent studies with Bill Herzog focusing on the historical Jesus. (He was at CRDS before he went to ANTS) I didn't care too much for the traditional approach but was quite fascinated with the social science approach. I took the classes but couldn't quite figure out what to do with them. My primary frustration was the parables. Herzog interpreted the parables in a social scientific way which showed why the social elites and powerful would want to crucify Jesus.

Okay, fine and dandy. But what was one to do with the parables in the pulpit? How could you take them from their 1st century context to the 21st century? That was always my dilemma.

This Fall I decided to use the gospel lectionary selections (I lengthened almost every one, cut out a couple and traded in some others; why they did not include the Prodigal Son story I'll never know) as a way to illustrate what it means to be Christian, primarily taking my cue from the parables.

Spending a good amount of time in the 3rd Gospel has been fun. I love Luke, so much so that I tend to ignore or casually forget about the other three. Nosing around the Third Gospel has given me some time and space to begin to solve my parable dilemma. I believe I have found a way to use the first century story with modern day examples. I'll post the sermon tomorrow afternoon and you lemme know.

14 September 2007

Bottles and Cans, Just Clap Your Hands

Today TOL has been working up a storm canning our, actually her, famous tomato sauce. My job is to plant the seeds, nurture them, plant them in the ground, take care of them for awhile them basically forget about them. Then she goes out into the wild tomato patch, collects the tomatoes and then rightly complains about how overgrown the garden is.
All in all (drum roll please) 33 quarts!

Since I employed lyrics from Beck, it is time to mention the wonderful time I had hanging out with DR. Burg. He accompained me back from BWI. I vowed never again to drive on I-95 so we went north 81 then east on 84 and Rt. 6 into Providence. Once we arrived we picked up my truck at T. F. Green and drove separtely to Trinity Brewhouse. I had a Hefe Wiezen and another great selection that slips my mind. Dr. Burg had a Russian Imperial Stout and the IPA. The next day we hung out in RI and did some odd errands. On Wednesday we took a pilgrimage of sorts to Concord so we could walk around Walden Pond and see the site of Thoreau's cabin. The trip to Walden went great. I was amazed at how warm and shallow the lake was and all of the people swimming the lake! Thursday he left for H'burg.

Nice view of Walden Pond.
A trip with Dr. Burg just aint a trip without some historical poses. Here he is in the replica of Thoreau's cabin in some deep contemplation.

And here is your's truly sampling some tasty grub I rustled up for dinner in the cabin.
I thought about purchasing a mug at the gift shop that read SIMPLIFY but it seemed just too ironic.

Pop always said that in life you may get 1 or 2 great friends, if you do treasure them. Dr. Burg is one of those folks in my life I treasure. Thanks good buddy.

11 September 2007

My Kingdom for a Van

What appeared to be another doomsy day turned out quite well.

First, my ride to the airport was cancelled; so I drove myself.

Second, when I arrived at the airport all of a sudden 10 firetrucks stormed into the parking lot; but it didn't disrupt the planes.

Third, my ride for when I arrived at BWI was cancelled; so I took the Shuttle Express.

But I made it to the good Doctor's picked him up and headed to RI. We arrived some time around 10, then had a late night dinner. Good to be home, and with the van!

06 September 2007

Prologomena To a Sermon

It being Thursday there is no way I am even going to attempt to the NYTimes crossword puzzle, I am a Tuesday person at best - right now. Therefore, I will share some thoughts as a way of kick starting the brain before I write a sermon.

*Speaking of the Times, I wished they hadn't shrunk the size of the paper. I like the previous larger format. Now it feels like I am reading a school newspaper and not all the news fit to print.

*The other day #2 explained how a bumble bee collects nectar from flowers. "Hey day, the bees sneak up in the flower and grab the nectar then fly away."

*#1 is back in school now, 1st grade. She loves it. I am amazed at how she describes her classmates, not by their last names. Instead she will say either describe them by what teacher they have or what bus they are on. I have tried to trip her up, if I so happen to know the child's last name, but she won't budge - she sticks to her classification.

*Steve Earle's latest album, Washington Square Serenade, is set to be released on September 25. Here is the track list:
Tennessee Blues
Down Here Below
Satellite Radio
City of Immigrants
Sparkle and Shine
Come Home to Me
Jericho Road
Oxycontin Blues
Red Is the Color
Steve's Hammer (For Pete)
Days Aren't Long Enough
Way Down in the Hole

I think Oxycontin Blues should be Met lad blues. The web page says that the cd has a walking tour of Greenwich Village. I wonder if he mentions Judson Church, an ABC and UCC congregation?

*While I am on the topic of album releases, the last (Mr. Burg says there never be a last; he is right the record companies will always bring out something) of the American Recordings, American VI, by JC will come out in late October. Here is the track list:
  1. "San Antonio"
  2. "Redemption Day"
  3. "Here Comes a Boy"
  4. "That's Enough"
  5. "1st Corinthians 5:55"
  6. "I Can't Help But Wonder"
  7. "Nine-Pound Hammer"
  8. "North to Alaska"
  9. "His Eyes on the Sparrow"
  10. "If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again"
  11. "The Eye of an Eagle"
  12. "Don't Take Everybody for Your Friend"
  13. "Belshazzar"
  14. "Loading Coal"
  15. "A Half a Mile a Day"
  16. "Flesh and Blood"
  17. "I Am a Pilgrim"
  18. "Beautiful Dreamer"
  19. "Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down"
  20. "Family Bible"
I'm most excited about Nine Pound Hammer and Loading Coal, they are two of my favorites. I'm a double first cousin to a dad blamed mole.

*Marshall University has also released its 2007-08 mens basketball schedule:
11/01/07 vs. Fairmont State (Exhib.) Cam Henderson Center TBA
11/06/07 vs. West Liberty State (Exhib.) Cam Henderson Center TBA
11/13/07 vs. Pikeville Cam Henderson Center TBA
11/20/07 vs. East Tennessee Cam Henderson Center TBA
11/25/07 vs. Boston University Cam Henderson Center TBA
11/28/07 at Wright State Dayton, Ohio TBA
12/01/07 vs. Morehead State Cam Henderson Center TBA
12/04/07 at East Tennessee Johnson City, Tenn. TBA
12/14/07 vs. Rio Grande Cam Henderson Center TBA
12/18/07 at Louisville Louisville, Ky. TBA
12/22/07 vs. Princeton Cam Henderson Center TBA
12/29/07 vs. Lipscomb Cam Henderson Center TBA
12/31/07 vs. San Diego Cam Henderson Center TBA
01/05/08 vs. Winthrop Cam Henderson Center TBA
01/09/08 at Rice * Houston, Texas TBA
01/12/08 vs. Memphis * Cam Henderson Center TBA
01/16/08 at East Carolina * Greenville, N.C. TBA
01/19/08 vs. UAB * Cam Henderson Center TBA
01/23/08 vs. West Virginia Charleston, W.Va. TBA
01/26/08 at Houston * Houston, Texas TBA
01/30/08 vs. Tulsa * Cam Henderson Center TBA
02/02/08 at UAB * Birmingham, Ala. TBA
02/06/08 at UCF * Orlando, Fla. TBA
02/09/08 vs. East Carolina * Cam Henderson Center TBA
02/13/08 at SMU * Dallas, Texas TBA
02/16/08 vs. Tulane * Cam Henderson Center TBA
02/20/08 vs. UTEP * Cam Henderson Center TBA
02/23/08 vs. UCF * Cam Henderson Center TBA
03/01/08 at Tulsa * Tulsa, Okla. TBA
03/05/08 at Tulane *

03/08/08 vs. Southern Miss

*Now that all of that is out lemme turn to the sermon. For the Fall I am doing a series on the latter part of Luke. The gospel stories are pretty much the lectionary texts, I cannot believe the lectionary gods did not include the story of the prodigal son. The series is a reflection on what is Christian living. Last week we focused on the paradoxical nature of Christianity. I'd hoped to post the sermon but could not. I had about 3/4 of it typed, the last 1/4 was written out long hand but it didnt make to the pulpit. Plus I had the congregation say Ohhhh everytime I said curses...spoiled again. You just cant relay that on a blog.

This week more of the paradoxical nature of Christianity. This time the word hate appears in context with mom and dad. Easy there Jesus. I have thought about this passage for some time. My mind takes me to the U2 song With or Without You, specifically I can't live with or without you.

I think part of love directed towards another is that you can't live with or without the other. You have throw all your love to another but then forget about it. Just like a jazz musician, practice, practice, practice then forget it and just play.

To follow Jesus we have to be willing to sacrifice everything then only to have everything returned anew. In addition to the U2 song there is the story of the sacrifice of Isaac, interesting that none of the biblical operators mentioned the pivotal OT story.

*Finally, the vine garden. This year TOL, asked me to create a garden space and put up a trellis for a vining garden. She took care of the rest, now we are enjoying our creation.

04 September 2007

Oldsmobile Living

The van will be fixed by tomorrow, but I won't be able to pick it up till the first of the week; I am cooking the pulled pork for the Homecoming/Rally Day weekend, that will take at least most of Friday and Saturday. After the Rally Day Festivities: largest ice cream sundae and kids vs. adults kickball game there is a memorial service at 3. So I'll fly down Monday and drive back that day, the newly minted doctor may even ride back with me.

In the meantime we will continue to borrow a car from a parishioner, but not just any car: an 88 Oldsmobile. It is like I retired at 32. It is big, comfortable and I only want to drive it no more than 25mph. I have always dreamed of retiring early, but not this early.

Till Monday it is Oldsmobile living: life in the slow lane, dinners at 4:30 and only hearing what I want to.
On a serious note, if the folks wouldn't have let us borrow this car we would easily be in the hole another $ 2K. And to be honest I kind of like it, the car that is.

02 September 2007

Puplit Return...

First off, major congratulations to Mr. Burg. On Friday he received the title his Doctorate of Philosophy from Catholic University. Proud of you buddy!

Second, Woody has perhaps the best bacon story of the 2nd quarter.

Third, pleasant to hear the Ron actually missed my blogging.

Fourth, I went up the pulpit, my first sermon since the first Sunday in August. It felt good to be back. I'll post the sermon in a little while, still working on some formatting issues.

Fifth, when we came back from vacation #3 and I were let down to discover we were the only two in the family not in the papers. #1 & #2 were the top readers. And TOL had a nice write up in the LLL regional newsletter telling about her work towards winning a grant. The grant was used to purchase materials for local pediatricians to distribute breastfeeding material to new mothers. (No link available.)

Finally, forthcoming posts from vacation and Oldsmobile living.

Furthermore. While on the beach one day the kids wanted to bury me. I always wanted to be buried in the sand and even thought I might sneak in a nap from it. The kids, however, only wanted to bury me so that I would jump out of the sand. Well the wife supervised their work and thought it would be nice to make me look like I was pregnant.

For your viewing pleasure: