Thursday, December 28, 2006

Deep. Breaths.

If divorce lawyers hung outside of houses where couples/families are trying to get out the door to go on vacation - they would make a FORTUNE!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Short and Sweet Week Update

I am now on the other side of the funeral and things are a lot clearer now. I mean that figuratively in that I feel like I can see to the other side of Christmas now and literally in that I can now breathe through my nose.

Speaking of the funeral, did you know that when you release doves they are actually white courier pigeons trained to return back home. They also cost $150 per bird. The mother of the deceased was VERY high maintenance and had been driving the funeral director crazy so you should have seen his face when I told him she wanted little messages strapped to their legs and he would have to do that while we were driving 45 minutes down to the burial site. It took him a good, stunned 20 seconds to realize I was kidding.

I also have the "doves" and the reading that accompanied them to thank for the scar tissue I now have in my mouth because that is how hard I had to bite it to keep from laughing out loud.

I have a few things to do yet, but I am starting to really look forward to tomorrow. Advent 4 in the morning with ornaments being placed on the Sanctuary tree so that the ol' timers can get off my back about it being the "ugliest tree we've had in 60 years". And I am not done with it yet, but I am excited about my sermon on the Magnificat. Then we celebrate my Dad's birthday with a yummy meal prepared by TDH. Then Lessons and Carols in the pm... ALWAYS great. It is hard to mess up carols with a raging fire hazard at the end. What says Merry Christmas like the faint aroma of a strand of hair burning?

Thank you all for hanging in with me this week. I hope your weekend goes smoothly and that you are able to enjoy the moment of Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Peace, friends.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dragging You With Me

I realize that I am over-tired right now and I have a cold and I have every reason to be a tad over-sensitive right now but I still hate that this COMMERCIAL made me tear up.

A Day in the Life

Yesterday I experienced...

The First Wave of Last Minute Shoppers
Woe to ye attempting to make a quick run into Wally World!

The Arrogance of Youth
Young man, about two years out of college came into my office declaring he wanted to be removed from the membership roles. On Sunday one of the things I said in my sermon was something like, "...we might not all be able to perform miracles...". Apparantly this offends him. Seems the Pentecostal church he has been attending lately has informed him that we all can perform miracles. How dare I preach against that sacred teaching, although to be honest I was really preaching about hope.

Son, if we all could perform miracles I would have ten fingers.

Middle Age Denial
If you drive a minivan complete with sunscreens suction-cupped onto the windows with a Winnie-the-Pooh theme then the 'If it's too loud, you're too old' bumper sticker really doesn't belong there.

Textbook Grief
Women talking rapidly; men silent and searching for things to do. It breaks my heart every time.

I have already lost my pre-Christmas massage to the funeral and thought I was going to lose my haircut too, but my cute hair cutter made room for me today. Yeah!

Has anyone else noticed their parishioners talking about the morning and evening services on Sunday as if they are one Christmas Eve service with an option on times?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It's short... Not really sweet.

What is up with the money-grubbing makers of Black Christmas? Is nothing sacred? Well, apparantly not. I realize that the Lord has bigger fish to fry than a stupid movie, but is this thing really necessary?

If nothing else, please move the ads to later at night so that when we are innocently watching a sports show with The Boy toddling around we don't have to dive for the mute button. That ad is scary.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Back to Light and Airy

I am not sure why exactly it is, but my father has never really been able to grasp the concept of what is considered to be a decent Christmas present and what isn't. There are plenty of potential reasons for this:
1) He grew up Jewish.
2) He grew up the son of poor immigrants.
3) He grew up in 'old school' Brooklyn.

I am not trying to insult anyone else in the above categories, I am really just hoping the reason is not 4) he doesn't care enough to get better at it.

How bad can it be? Well, my Mom - who gets the brunt of it - has received everything from nothing (an inspired choice to be sure) to a mechanical rat that sang at a very high pitch an indecipherable Elvis tune... complete with thick rat tail.

One year on Maundy Thursday my Dad and a group of twelve men re-enacted the Last Supper. I don't remember much of it, but I do remember it was well received. I did not, however, realize that they had taken a picture of all of them posing as if they were in Michelangelo's painting. No one knew that until my Mom unwrapped her Christmas gift that year of a framed, poster-sized edition of the faux Michelangelo.

Now I wasn't that old and my sister is five years younger and yet I remember us both shaking our heads and looking at it and him in disbelief and saying, "Oh, Dad..."

Monday, December 18, 2006

And Now for Some Cynicism

So as you can tell from my post below my week has gotten a bit more complex... and that's ok.

Tonight a member of my congregation called and asked me if I could come in tomorrow morning to the hospital and pray with her before she goes into surgery.
Seems like a reasonable request... I guess.

To me it seems to be a bit much since I will need to be in there by 5:45 in the morning and the operation is... wait for it....

...outpatient knee surgery.

Is it wrong that my inner cynic - and tomboy - just wants her to 'man up'?

Where is my Associate Pastor of Pastoral Care when I need her?

so much for light and airy

She died this morning.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Light and Airy; Short and Sweet

A lot of folks who read my blog are clergy or at least heavily involved in the church so for this week I am going to attempt to keep things light and airy; short and sweet. Here is the first installment:

I received one of those annoying email forwards with a joke about a dumb blonde that I didn't think was that funny. It was about a woman buying postage stamps and when asked what denomination she wanted them in she listed Presbyterian, Methodist, blah, blah, blah...

I grunted a bit disgusted at the sterotyping of women and thought to myself, "Yeah, right... who would really make that mistake?"

And then I remembered.

The Countdown


57 people through our house in less than an hour; THAT is why we do it after worship.

must. nap.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse

Barry Williams does a guess stint on the Wiggles Christmas special that I watched on the Disney Channel this morning.

7:15am is WAY too early for Greg Brady singing in a gold beaded outfit.

I'm just saying...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Fret to the World!

The short version: A young family fairly new to the church needed help with their mortgage refinancing. Due to them both being out of work at the same time they missed a couple of mortgage payments and needed to have a 'loan modification'. This modification required a hefty up front downpayment of $2000. They had $1100.

I did all of the background checks. They are legit. The request is legit. And forclosure on their home was scheduled for - I kid you not - December 23rd.

We contacted local organizations - no one helps with mortgage, only rent (We can discuss that disturbing trend at another time). Our church's own mission fund only approves $500 p/year. They asked if they could borrow the $400 and pay us back in January to get them to that $2000 total they needed.

I asked our stew/fin person. I begged. I pleaded. Her big concern is what if we do not get that $400 back? We are VERY tight on budget, but let's face it - whether I got it from a kind-hearted parishioner or we dug into our plus funds from previous years or asked our own fundraising committee for it, we could somehow get it if we needed it.

On Sunday I preached on the joy of giving. By this time she had seen all of the paperwork and new it was all above board and legit. We had just saved someone's home... for Christmas... for the mere price of $400. But there was no joy for her, only fret.

My heart weeps for this woman who is so focused on fretting over the bottom line, that she has failed to see the joy.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas Coffee Fellowship Countdown

After worship every Sunday we have coffee fellowship where members of our church take turns providing a variety of snacks and drinks for post-worship enjoyment. In December TDH and I (okay, really just TDH) hosts it... in our home.

We live across the parking lot of the church and we have found it is a great way to get credit for doing an Open House and yet people don't stay that long because they are still in the post-worship coffee fellowship mindset.

Of course, the home still needs to be 'decent and in order' and call me crazy... decorated for Christmas. We are still reeling from the pre and post Thanksgiving week paint project. Finally we have the clutter that created moved upstairs but there is nothing out that even remotely suggests Christmas.

No tree.
No wreath.
No angels.
No lights.
No Santas.
No red.
No green.

Maybe I can just tell them we are focusing on Advent this year.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Pastor's Lament

So there are two parties I wish I could be at this evening. One is a housewarming for a friend 9 hours away and one is a red wine tasting party 20 minutes away.

The first is of course a no-brainer. I'm a pastor. It's Advent. We sent our regrets.

The second was also a no-brainer.
It didn't start until 8.
My sermon wasn't done.
Our regular babysitter is out of town.
A lot of red wines give me a headache.
I don't usually drink on Saturdays before I preach.

So it was the obvious decision to make and yet still a bummer.

Friday, December 08, 2006

RevGalBlogPal Friday Five: Christmas Carol Edition

The revgals are at it again! This time the theme is Christmas carols:

1. A favorite 'secular' Christmas song.
Carol of the Bells and The Christmas Song (you know, 'Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...). That latter one was the first adult Christmas song I knew by heart and when I went to sing my newborn son a lullaby I panicked and it was the only thing I could come up with so I sang it... in February.

2. Christmas song that chokes you up (maybe even in spite of yourself--the cheesier the better)
Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant and I'll be Home for Christmas by the Carpenters. Karen just sings out that thing so earnestly that even if I am just out running errands when I hear it I think that I MUST get home as melodramatically as possible!!!

3. Christmas song that makes you want to stuff your ears with chestnuts roasted on an open fire.
I believe we've covered this one.

4. The Twelve Days of Christmas: is there *any* redeeming value to that song? Discuss.
There is, but you have to be creative. When I was growing up the church youth group choir led a Sunday evening Christmas-sing-along and one of our traditions was to stand up and hold the numbers as everyone sang through the song. Very fun. Also, just this past Sunday the youth group here went on a video scavenger hunt and one of their tasks was to catch on tape - in playback order - twelve different people singing the lines of the song. The results were hilarious!

And finally, if it weren't for his song then we wouldn't have the Bob and Doug McKenzie's rendition

5. A favorite Christmas album
Well, with a little help from my friends I am getting into Sufjan Stevens this Christmas.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Feliz Kissmya--

Please feel free to view an elongated and far more brilliant version of a Christmas Carol rant over at reverend mother's place.

As for me, I just want to know what it is about Feliz Navidad that makes every radio programmer think we want to hear it at least once an hour? Admittedly I may be taking it a bit personally as my husband pointed out he was pretty sure the dj's were not trying to show just how little 8 years of Spanish One did for me. But leaving that behind for a moment, could there BE a more annoying holiday song than this one. And how repetitive! And how repetitive! And how repetitive!

If you REALLY want to wish me a Merry Christmas then how about shutting the fireplace up! Or buying me an ipod so I can download/upload the Christmas music I WANT to listen to.

Through the day I listen to Yahoo Music. You can either pay for the service or if you are willing to listen to a few commercials you can get 300 hours of it free. They have all kind of Holiday categories: Latin Holiday, Rock Holiday, Christian Holiday, Gospel Holiday, Comedy Christmas, etc...

I chose Traditional Holiday which includes songs like Bing Crosby's White Christmas, Gene Autry's Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Nat King Cole's O Come All Ye Faithful and WHAT?!?!?! Brave Combo's Feliz Navidad!


What holiday song stomps on YOUR nerves?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Reason #241 Why You Don't Say Everything Out Loud

I was out Christmas shopping today when the store I was in played an advertisement for their own gift cards over the loudspeakers. I was kind of half listening when it said something like, "... they are the perfect gift and can be bought in all denominations..."

For a very split second I wondered what religion had to do with gift cards.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday Five: Advent Edition

The latest from the revgalblogpal website via Songbird.:

Although it comes as late as it can this year, Advent is upon us. Some of us grew up observing it, while to others (including this childhood Baptist) it was even more foreign than Lent! Over the past twenty years, I have grown to love Advent as a season of preparation, although as a pastor I find it harder to practice it at home than at church, even when the church might prefer I make it the other way 'round.

Here are five questions about Advent for this first of December:

1) Do you observe Advent in your church?

Yes... although not as much as my reformed worship professors would like. We light the candles one at a time and when I go lectionary I do stick with the texts and take our time getting to Christmas, but the hymns are another story.

I used to stand firm in the 'no Christmas hymns before the 24th' rule. I threw them a bone by having a hymn sing before worship on the first Sunday of Advent. But the poinsettias by tradition arrive in our Sanctuary the third Sunday of Advent so really what was the sense there.

Then I read an article about relating to the new age churchgoer in attempts to grow your congregation and it flat out said to get off our theological high horses and sing Christmas hymns in December. I gotta tell you, it made sense to me. So now we kind of ease into it and by the third week we are flat out singing it!

2) How about at home?
Advent calendar now and we definitely plan on an Advent wreath starting next year when The Boy can start to be a part of that tradition.

3) Do you have a favorite Advent text or hymn?
I love, Love, LOVE O Come, O Come Emmanuel and Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence. The first we sing throughout Advent verse be verse as a response to the Statement of Faith. The latter I have incorporated into Communion this Sunday.

4) Why is one of the candles in the Advent wreath pink? (You may tell the truth, but I'll like your answer better if it's funny.)
Because I get to drink from my flask every time someone asks that question.

Actually in all seriousness the pink candle represents the fourth wise person who was actually a woman. She stopped and asked for directions and in doing so arrived ahead of the wise men and the drummer boy and therefore her presence was never recorded in song.

5) What's the funniest/kitschiest Advent calendar you've ever seen.
Well admittedly I hadn't seen anything too awful so I journeyed over to ebay where I found this Advent Calendar for horses. Yup, you read that right. It contains "super tasty healthy vitamin treats with cod liver oil." YUM!

For some reason the pictures aren't uploading, but I also found one under the title of "Advent Calendar Rainbow Fish Ocean Beach Sealife". The forgot the words 'reef' and 'jellyfish'.