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Showing posts from January, 2013


My grandmother, Dorothy Mudge, died yesterday evening, with her children at her side, with words of love paving and smoothing her way. Everything in our beings tries to keep us going, and it isn’t easy, letting go of life. My grandmother was a strong woman, and it took some long days, this letting go. For the first ten years of my life, we lived around the corner from my grandparents, in Westernville, NY, pretty much a two-street town. They lived on one street, and we lived on the other. We were at their house almost every day. We ate dinner there almost every night, where we always sat in the same places, and my spot was right next to Grandma. I spent every Friday night at their house for years, along with my big brother Jim. Jim would hang out with my Uncle John, in his very cool bedroom that I hardly ever got sight of, and I would spend my time with Grandma and Grandpa. We’d watch Dallas and Falcon Crest. We’d watch country western music concerts, and baseball games. (I still

Lectionary Notes for Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, Year C

Readings for 4th Sunday after Epiphany, 2/3/13:  Jeremiah 1:4-10, Psalm 71:1-6, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, Luke 4:21-30 Jeremiah 1:4-10 Similar to Psalm 139:13 - "For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb." "I am only a boy" - Does Jeremiah mean that he is actually chronologically young? Perhaps, perhaps not, but that detail doesn't actually hit the point. Jeremiah is saying that he feels unequipped, not nearly mature enough to be 'appointed ... a prophet to the nations.' This is a feeling we can all relate to - inadequacy in God's eyes and our own. When will we remember how often God chooses the ones that seem unprepared, and that they succeed in God's plans with God's aid. "Now I have put my words in your mouth." I love this imagery - it's another reminder to Jeremiah and to us that we don't have to make up our message on our own - when God calls us, God also provides us wi

Lectionary Notes for Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C

Readings for 3rd Sunday after Epiphany, 1/27/13:  Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10, Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a, Luke 4:14-21 Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10 : "So they read the book . . . with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading." How have traditions of faith developed that try to take everything in the scriptures as literal truth? Here we have a community of faith gathering to hear the word read, and interpreted, to convey the meaning of sometimes confusing laws and scriptures. To be sure, different interpretations would arise, but it that more threatening than the kind of control that results when we try to contain and box in the living word of God? "For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law." Nehemiah finds a people returning from exile, returning to a land that for them was completely tied up with their understanding of and relationship with God. It's hard for us to even comprehend crying in joy

Lectionary Notes for Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C

Readings for Second Sunday after Epiphany, 1/20/13: Isaiah 62:1-5, Psalm 36:5-10, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, John 2:1-11 Isaiah 62:1-5: Again, this passage speaks in hopefulness of the joy that will come when the people are freed from captivity and return to home from Babylon. How do we retain hope after such a long time when nothing is changing? "You shall no longer be termed Forsaken." These words strike me as particularly comforting to one who has decided to turn to God after a time of struggle, or in the midst of struggle. God does not forsake us! The imagery of marriage in the scriptures, such as in verses 4-5 here, is a struggle today because the way marriage is portrayed is usually so male-centered and patriarchally slanted. God is portrayed as the ultimate man, ready to take us as the lovely bride, made special by being chosen by the groom. We have to be careful to extract the meaning of the passage without walking away with the baggage of these marriage stereotyp

Sermon for Baptism of the Lord Sunday, "Clean Slate: Refresh," Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

Sermon 1/13/13, Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 Clean Slate: Refresh You often hear people comment on how quickly children grow up. Blink, and you’ve missed it, and your baby is a teenager, or suddenly an adult. I feel a little that way when reading the accounts of Jesus’s life: just last week, we were talking about the Christ-child, maybe a toddler when the Magi visited him. And suddenly, we’re meeting the adult Jesus. The Bible only gives one account of Jesus between birth and adulthood: Jesus at age twelve, in the Temple, in one brief scene. It is left to our imaginations to picture Jesus at 7, or 16, or 25. Today, though, we find ourselves turning back to another character we haven’t seen since his birth, as our scene opens on John the Baptist. People are gathering before John, preparing to be baptized. Earlier in this chapter, John preached to the crowds about bearing fruits worthy of repentance. He called them a brood of vipers, which apparently did not offend them enough to make

Lectionary Notes for Baptism of the Lord, Year C

Readings for Baptism of the Lord Sunday, 1/13/13: Isaiah 43:1-7, Psalm 29, Acts 8:14-17, Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 Isaiah 43:1-7: "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine." This is my mother's favorite Bible verse, and I can see why she likes it: we are called by name by God. Why were you named what you are named? What's the story behind it? I was named for Beth in  Little Women , and after the middle names of two of my aunts. We are God's creations, and named by God, we belong to God. There is strength and comfort in that. Later on in these verses, I feel less comfortable with the imagery, though I understand the point the author is trying to communicate. There is such comfort in knowing that God is with us in all situations, that God created us, walks with us through the waters, protects us from fire, etc. But does it always have to be at the expense of those we name as our enemies? What about the people and nations that Go

Sermon for Epiphany Sunday, "Clean Slate: Reflect"

Sermon 1/6/13 Matthew 2:1-12 Clean Slate: Reflect Today is Epiphany Sunday! Perhaps your decorations are already long-put away. Surely, you’ve noticed that the stores have already moved on to Valentine’s Day, with sad little bins in the corner of slightly worn Christmas merchandise on clearance. But in reality, yesterday, Saturday, was the last day of Christmas – the twelfth day of Christmas. You may not realize it, but that song that you can never get out of your head, with the partridge in a pear tree? Those twelve days of Christmas start on December 25 th , when Christmas begins , and end on January 5 th , and are then followed Epiphany day, January 6 th . We’re blessed, this year, because Epiphany day only occasionally falls on a Sunday, and you have to celebrate it when we’re just “close enough.” But today, we celebrate Epiphany on Epiphany. Aren’t you excited? It might help if you were reminded just exactly what Epiphany is. It is the day when we celebrate the Mag