Monday, July 27, 2009

It's a dog's world...

It is a dog's world!

It has been an intense time around our house. Dealing with issues of barking and feline relations has been stressful for all of us. Last week Isabelle got me up at 3am almost every day barking in her crate. The old remedy for barking: letting them bark without giving in to their need for attention - only works if you live in the country. My neighbors just don't deserve that! We have now made several modifications in routine that are helping. Just this weekend we seem to have made a leap of progress. Isabelle is sleeping in her crate better with much less barking. I am reading everything I can get my hands on about dealing with her (and ultimately my) issues. I know that so much of her ability to be a great dog depends on my ablility to give her good boundaries. I made a "shake can" by putting coins in a tin container. I now shake it when she starts barking at or harrassing the cat. It sure gets her attention off of the cat. Perhaps Pumpkin will get out from under the bed a little more...

Yesterday morning after everyone was fed and I was ready for church I sat down to read through my sermon several times. I did that and then I closed my eyes to pray and woke up 40 minutes later! For a moment I didn't know what day it was - both of the dogs were asleep at my feet. Then I looked at my watch - it was 7:55am - and I had an 8:00am service! I hustled myself over to the church and several folks were there (it's never a big crowd). They were all worried that something had happened to me. Finally, as they were helping me get everything ready, someone said, "What happened?" I said, "I hoped no one would ask that question!" Then I told them what happened - everyone laughed and teased me. They were very understanding. I love the 8:00 am service. It is a quiet time with a small group of people - no music, just the liturgy. The 10:00 service yesterday seemed chaotic to me. We were learning a new piece of music with a new organist who is being trained by our present organist. Sally has filled in admirably since Kathleen's death but she doesn't want to do this full time. My acolyte was a wonderful man in the congregation who grew up in the Episcopal Church. It was his first time acolyting here and we made our way through the service without too much confusion, but I felt frazzled. I hope that didn't get communicated to the congregation. Sometimes worship goes so smoothly and other times it feels like you have a rope over your shoulder pulling everyone along.

Pepper Jelly

Last Friday I made this pepper jelly which did not "jell". So yesterday I put it back in the pot, added a bit more sugar and sure jell and boiled it longer. I put it in the jars and it is still not jelly but it is thicker. So I will give it to folks as "pepper glaze for pork". It has a great taste - sweet sour with a bit of a kick. I just don't have the heart to "reboil." It is pretty to look at and I love to make jelly and jam. It is very therapeutic.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Episcopal Church

I love the symbol above which the Episcopal Church is using for its General Convention. The theme of the convention is Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a Bantu (South African) word which describes our life with each other in community. Life in community (ideally) helps us understand who we are in God's eyes - we are loved, forgiven and entrusted with ministry to each other. We enable this as we love each other, forgive each other and enable one another to do ministry.

This week at General Convention the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies passed resolution D025

It is an incredibly honest statement of where the Episcopal Church is right now regarding issues of ordination and homosexuality. I am so pleased to see this resolution pass. The Church is saying many things in this: We still want to be a part of the Anglican Communion worldwide with our financial support and through relationships and ministry; we want to continue to listen to homosexual persons and to value their experience; we acknowledge that homosexual persons have exercised ministry in the church and will continue to exercise ministry in the Episcopal Church through the process of discernment as detailed in the Canons and Constitution of the Episcopal Church; and that even after careful study utilizing scripture, tradition and reason, not all person will come to the same conclusion about homosexuality.

I am hoping - perhaps beyond reason - that having stated honestly our view about this matter of human sexuality we will now be able to move towards the biblical imperative of mission. I have long wondered what we are doing spending so much of our time, money and energy debating an issue that scripture mentions only a few times while ignoring what scripture says over and over about caring for and loving one another as we take care of those who are hungry, without shelter, sick and dying. Jesus spent large parts of his gospel talking about reconciliation and forgiveness and we have allowed ourselves to be divided, grumpy and unforgiving of each other over this issue. We ignore Jesus' words about the right use of our resources while the church (and the world) goes bankrupt. Greed has become acceptable and we have forgotten that everything we have comes from God.

I will quit preaching...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Summer Stuff

Never - ending Blackberry Bush
At the edge of my yard is a large bush that has been taken over by blackberry vines. Every year it seems to produce more and more blackberries. Last year the flood waters from the Wabash came about 2-3 feet into the bush, but it produced great blackberries. This year we have had an abundance as well. My neighbors have picked and I have picked several gallons already. I'm juicing my berries to make jelly as I don't digest the seeds very well. I started picking again yesterday but a storm came up and drove us inside. My sweet Isabelle and Katie help entertain me as I pick! They have planted soybeans in the field behind the house and Katie loves to get in the field and nosh on the lovely grass growing there alongside the soybean plants. The bean plants are still quite small and new. The field had water in it until about a month ago but the Wabash is well down now.
Yesterday was the 6th Sunday after Pentecost and the gospel lesson was about John the Baptist getting beheaded by Herod. Once every three years in the lectionary cycle, John gets served up to us on a platter by Mark's gospel. The story fits right in with the political scandals of late. Can't you see John confronting the governor of South Carolina or John Edwards about their infidelities? The fact that John was martyred for his efforts says more about our lax morals than anything.
Mark puts this gruesome story between Jesus sending out the twelve disciples to teach, preach and heal and their successful return. I wonder what Mark is trying to say here? Is it that ministry continues to happen even when fierce opposition flourishes? Or perhaps it is a warning from Mark that we can expect opposition to the message of the gospel. When I travelled to Israel last year I carried a little notebook with me. At every stop, at every meeting with Israelis or Palestinians who are working for peace, I wanted to document the progress that had been made. As I read back over my notes I realize that what I saw, much more than progress, was faithfulness. In the face of dissension and even conflict I saw Israelis, Palestinians, students, farmers, landowners, and children who continue to be fired up and working for peace. It makes me wonder where the cutting edge of my own commitment to God's work is found? I am pretty comfortable in my seat at the banquet table and that comfort makes it hard for me to jump out there and confront a Herod or enter a situation where I know I will have to expose my deepest convictions.
The General Convention of the Episcopal Church is meeting in Anaheim, CA this week. Those who are delegates have over 300 pieces of legislation before them. It is a smorgasbord of issues and I do not envy them their job. I know, however, that good and faithful people who are called to do that work will enter into it prayerfully and cautiously. It is reported that our Presiding Bishop, Katherine Jefferts-Schori, was heard muttering the word "mission" over and over as she took her seat in the House of Bishops! I believe that the church is in a good place to move forward now into new endeavors of mission in the world. We have recognized the equal gifts of all who come to the banquet table and we are in a stronger place to do the work of the gospel.
And...I am ready to make blackberry jelly and let the juice from our sweet Posey County melons run down my chin... it is summer after all!