Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

One of my favorite part of Christmas is the children's Christmas pageant, I love watching our children become familiar with the story of the birth of Jesus and to begin to take their parts in leading the worship of the Church.

This year's pageant was particularly wonderful (and not only because I wrote it :)) Click here for the youtube video and see if you agree.

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas - or not

A group of us tried to go Christmas caroling yesterday afternoon. I emphasize that we tried, but it was raining and cold and a miserable day and we were not really able to get into the Christmas spirit and no one was really going to want to stand with the door open and listen to us.

It's amazing how the weather is so connected to Christmas for us. If it has been snowing instead of raining I think we would have all had a lot more energy and it would have felt a lot more like Christmas to everyone.

I have occaisionally wondered what the Church year is like for people in the southern hemisphere. For me snow and cold and "the bleak mid-winter" is an inseperable part of Christmas and the spring and re-birth of the earth is an insperable part of Easter.

I wonder what it would be like for Christmas to be in the middle of summer - and celebrated with barbeques and beach trips and for Easter to be in the fall when everything is dying - rather than beginning to grow?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Season of Preparation

That's what we call Advent. It occured to me how many things we prepare for and how many different ways there are to prepare.

My parents went to the Carribian the Monday after Thanksgiving. They were preparing for their trip by making lists and packing suitcases and making sure that someone was taking in the mail and shovelling the snow and getting some of the Christmas decorations up so that when they came back they weren't so rushed. That's one way to prepare.

I went to the grocery store on Friday - they were predicting up to 10 inches of snow - there were lots of people there stocking up on the things that they would want to have in the house if they couldn't get out right away - that's another way to prepare.

I'm in the midst of preparing for Christmas, I'm writing cards and wrapping and mailing presents and writing sermons - that's another way to prepare.

But to prepare for the coming of Christ, that means to stop and reflect and look at what in our lives has taken too much of our time and energy and what has taken a backseat that needs to be brought forward - to look at our lives with the eyes of God and to try to see as God sees so that we can be prepared to enter into the presence of God. As the collect for the second Sunday of Advent says "that we without shame or fear may rejoice to behold his appearing"

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Reflections

I had the typical things to be thankful for this year, my family, my friends, a job I like etc, etc...

But it occured to me on my drive home from Columbus to be thankful for the freedom and ability to travel to where my family was this year.

I drove about 600 miles round trip to my family's home this holiday. Most of it on smooth, well lit, 2 or 3 lanes in each direction, freeways. Behind the wheel of my reliable Honda Accord. Averaging over 70 miles an hour (sshh, don't tell the highway patrol)

For most human beings on earth still today what I did was impossible. If you could, somehow, aquire a car and the gas to put in it, there are no, or only poorly maintained roads. For them, traveling 600 miles by road is facing several days of exhausting and hazardous travel.

It's a small thing, but it brought home to me how much I have to be thankful for and how much of it I regularly take for granted.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

It's something of a cliche, but as we approach Thanksgiving it is easy to get swamped with travel and food and family and getting ready for the next holiday - so this week try to make it a point to stop and reflect on all the things that you have to be thankful for.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 15, 2009

God is doing a new thing

Well, not really new, music videos have been around for more than 25 years now, but look at the video that the Eastern Erie Deanery youth made at their first meeting this year.

The pictures are from the journey the kids made on our progessive dinner this year. The music is from Casting Crowns. The combination is the Holy Spirit.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sesame Street

I don't know if you heard, but Sesame Street is turning 40 this year. I watched Sesame Street, pardon the expression, religiously when I was little.

It's amazing how the things that we watch and listen to as children come with us through our lives. I remember my friends and I in college making big bowls of popcorn and sitting down to watch Sesame Street when we need to relax and feel comfortable.

When I was home sick last week, I stumbled on an episode of Sesame Street and suddenly I was a little girl again coming home from kindergarten and having oreos and milk in front of the t.v. before going out to play.

What is it for you that takes you back to that feeling of being safe and protected and that all is right with the world?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saints' Day

All Saints' Day is one of my favorite days of the year. I really love the hymns (even though they have lots of verses, they also have great energy). I also just really like being reminded of those who have gone before us.

One of my favorite days was made even better this year, because it was a youth Sunday at St. Paul's and our young people were all around at the service.

Here is a video of some of the festivities today, it's less than 4 minutes long, enjoy!

P.S. St. Paul's folk, if any of you took pictures of the Halloween party on Friday, could you e-mail them to me?

Monday, October 26, 2009

The gift of fall

One of the great joys of living in a place with four seasons is the joy of fall, and it is in full swing right now.

The rain we got this summer has been translated into glorious color, the sun is out and it is not too hot and not too cold.

And, like most small blessings, it is only with us for a short time, so if you can, get out for a bit and enjoy one of the great blessings of creation.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Looking past the present - or lessons from OSU football

As many of you know, I am a huge Ohio State Football fan. If you've driven by the rectory on a Saturday this fall, you may have seen my flag flying the Buckeye colors. Last week OSU played Wisconsin and next week they play Penn State. Yesterday, they were playing Purdue.

Now, in the Big 10, Wisconsin is usually pretty good and Penn State is usually pretty good, and either one might be a challenge to my beloved Buckeyes. But, Purdue, well, Purdue is usually in the bottom of the Big Ten and, really, no one considers them a really threat to OSU.

Well Purdue beat the Buckeyes yesterday, not just beat them, trounced them. And a lot of the commentators were saying, and I agree, that OSU looked past Purdue. They played Wisconsin and had Penn State comming up and they just didn't think about Purdue or prepare the way they should have. And it cost them.

I think that's kind of like us, we are so often waiting for the next big thing that we overlook the things going on right now. We are getting ready for Halloween or Christmas or the next holiday, and forget to take time to enjoy the little things right now.

Or we are waiting for God to send a thunder bolt with his mission for us and we forget to notice the need just outside our door.

Just a thought from the Saturday football couch.

Monday, October 12, 2009


We had 13 bike riders and several workers at the bike-a-thon this week. The weather cooperated and everything went well.
The riders raised (with some additional pledges) $1130. And the riders and the workers enjoyed a delicious lunch. Thanks to everyone who helped and rode.
One of the things we found is that the route is very safe (with only a few places where the bike path crosses streets) and that if you rode the whole route it was about a three hour ride, if you rode half of it it would be about 90 minutes.
So for next year, keep in mind that this is a perfect family activity :)
Thanks to Ward C, Ron S, Carri L, Diane C, Shelia M and everyone else who helped make the bike-a-thon a success.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lots of fun - in spite of the weather

Here are some pictures of the fun this weekend.

We went to the UB Bulls game on Saturday, tailgating and all. We had a great time , inspite of the rain, until the middle of the third quarter when lightening forced us all out of the stadium. Unfortunately the Bulls didn't win, but there's always next week.

On Sunday we blessed animals, this was planned as an outdoor event, but weather (and the lack of prior building of an ark) forced us into the parish hall. The dog choir was in very good voice and their praise allowed for a slightly shorter service then was orginally planned.

I'm trying to upload a video of the pet blessing to youtube. If I'm successful, I'll post the link here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ministry Fair Reflections

I had a wonderful time at the Ministry Fair on Sunday after the 10 a.m. service. If you weren't able to be there, various ministries at the church set up table displays and talked to people about what they do and how people could get involved (and of course tried to recruit them).

It was a nice postlude to Donna's sermon about giving back to God out of our time and talent as well as our treasure.

But what I liked most about it was that people were talking to each other and talking about the things that interested and excited them. We all need to do more of that, talk about the things that we find exciting and interesting and intriguing.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Celebration of 60 years and a New Ministry

Here is a picture of Bishop Garrison and the choir and clergy getting ready to process into church for the Celebration of the 60th anniversary of the dedication of St. Paul's and the celebration of New Ministry of the rector and congregation.
It was a wonderful service. We celebrated St. Paul's history and renewed commitment to children and youth, our ties to the Diocese and the Bishop and were blessed by the presence of a lot of the clergy who had served here or had their calls to ministry confirmed here over the years.
One of the best parts was the joining of the St. Paul's choir with members of the Calvary Church choir. I hope that this marks the beginning of much more mutual ministry in the years to come.
So, St. Paul's folk, let's start that by heading to Calvary on Saturday from 4 to 8 to be a part of their Octoberfest.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Joy and Bubbles and Amens

I love the Sunday when Sunday School starts again. In many ways it is much more New Year's Day then the first day of January or the first Sunday of Advent.

We welcomed the kids back this year in the courtyard with bubbles, which then made their way into the church as well.

One of the great gifts that young people bring us is their joy. They are willing to blow bubles in church. They are willing to laugh out loud and shout the dismissal loudly.

This Sunday one of the best parts of the service for me was at the Great Amen. The Great Amen is the Amen at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, right before communion, when the congregation says "Amen" to the whole Eucharistic Prayer. It's printed in big print in the prayer book and is supposed to be said loudly. This Sunday, just a little behind the rest of us, one child's voice shouted out, "AMEN". I wanted to stop the service and say, "Yes, that's exactly how that should be done."

As we begin this new year, let's learn from the children and try to copy some of their joy and freedom and enthusiasm.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The view from above

My friends Tim and Stan invited me to be a judge for the River Days parade in Portsmouth, Ohio last Saturday. This is a big deal in Scioto County all 12 school districts in the county pick a River Days princess and all of the princesses make floats for the parade and they work on them for months.

This year the theme of the parade was Mardi Gras. Just to give you a taste, one of the floats had a model of a stretch of Bourbon St, including a boutique you could walk into. Another featured a shoe large enough for the princess to sit in.

They have to have judges from outside the county because both the princess floats and the community floats competitions are hard fought and deeply contested. It's fun to be a judge, but you can't help but be influenced by how seriously everyone takes the competition.

After the lead golf cart that I was riding in reached the end of the parade, Tim arranged for me to take a flight in a helicopter and see the parade (and greater Portsmouth) from above.

The helicopter only flew at about 500 feet above the ground, but it was amazing how the world changed from that high up. All of the contention and competition melted away and all that you could see was the floats and bands and fire trucks moving down the streets and the tops of the heads of the crowds. All of the things that seemed so important a few minutes before were reduced to a small part of the overall scene of the town and the surrounding countryside. All of those things were completely overwhelmed by the majestic beauty of the Appalachians and the Ohio River.

I think our lives are sometimes like that. We can get so focused on the little things that we miss the big picture that surrounds us. I think we all need to, metaphorically, get into a helicopter every once in a while and take the higher view of our lives and the things that surround us. It helps keep things in perspective.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Backpack blessing videos

We had a great blessing of the backpacks on Sunday. We prayed for those who teach and those who learn and we collected enough school supplies to send more than 20 kids back to school with complete sets of new supplies with some left over.

Most of the backpacks and complete sets of supplies went to Friends of the Night People in Buffalo. The remaining supplies went to School 3 in Buffalo and we distributed a few sets of supplies to some local people in need.

See the a part of the service here . And lest you think there is no joy left in church, check out this clip of me and a few of the kids dancing to the closing hymn.

Monday, August 24, 2009

An Interesting View of us from the outside

This article from Newsweek is an interesting look at the Episcopal Church and our current disputes from someone who isn't an Episcopalian and who isn't invested in the outcome. Very interesting and worth reading

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The internal cycle

We talk about the church year as a cycle that moves within the calendar year - beginning at Advent and moving through Christmas and then to Lent and Easter and in some way that cycle becomes a part of our lives and we conciously and sub-conciously respond to it.

There are other cycles like that and when they are disrupted it is very unsettling. I'm discovering that it actually doesn't take much.

Where I was raised and lived most of my life school started the third or fourth week of August, so by now the back to school shopping had been done, the class lists posted and the first day of school outfit at least thought about, if not actually picked out. So the fact that school here doesn't start for another three weeks is unsettling my internal "start of the program year" calendar. I have to admit that I'm surprised at how hard it is to adapt (at least right now)

I suspect that we all have several of these internal calendars and that part of building a family or a community is trying to get everyone's internal calendars in sync with each other.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Proof from facebook

I, somewhat facetiously, posted as my facebook status yesterday:

"Sunday afternoon naps are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Oh, wait, that's beer, or chocolate, oh well, why can't there be more than one:)"

A few of my friends commented back with other things that they found to be proofs that God loved them and wanted them to be happy, ranging from scotch to grandchildren.

That got me thinking, I suspect that if we look for it, we will find lots of proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. However, we, or at least I, don't tend to look for them very often.

I think I might try this week looking around for proof that God loves me. I suspect it might make a huge difference in my week.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Bread of Life

We are in that run of Sundays in year B of the lectionary that I like to call the month of bread. (Bethlehem means House of Bread in Hebrew, I'm not sure what month of bread would be iralehem maybe?) Anyway, beginning last week and for the next several Sundays our Gospel readings will be about the bread of life, the true bread that comes down from heaven etc, etc.

As I've been thinking about the next several sermons, I was remembering that in Jesus' time it was rare for people to bake their own bread. Most people didn't have ovens in their home, so to actually have leavened bread they needed to take their prepared dough to the baker and have it baked for them. Making bread was, of necessity, a community activity, you couldn't do it alone.

I wonder if that means that when Jesus says, "I am the Bread of Life" or "I am the true bread which comes down from heaven" did he have in his mind not only the staple food that everyone needed, but also the most common connection of people to their neighbors and communities? And if so, does that mean that Jesus is not only our connection to the basics of eternal life but also the basics of eternal community? Just something I'm pondering

Thursday, July 30, 2009

First Post

I've just started as rector of St. Paul's in Clarence, New York. I'm hoping that this blog will be a place to do theological reflection on secular and church events and maybe a way for folk to join in that conversation too.

More to come, watch this space.