Force Foot into mouth

It seems like every time I turn around…. There I go again saying something that sounds a lot worse than I meant it to be. I just seem to live with my foot in my mouth, too bad it has not stopped me from eating!

Like tonight for instance, I was trying to find one of my daughters’ cups, and was not having any luck, and said under my breath “if this place wasn’t so frickin messy.” To which my wife replied, “WHAT?” Which I passed off. Now she is all pissed at me because she is probably thinking, I say probably because she is not talking to me, that I think she does not do enough all day around the house, and that it is her fault that the house is always a mess.

Well it is not her fault, if it is anyone’s fault it is mine. I’m the one who doesn’t do anything around the house all day. All I seem to do is get in the way when things are being done. What I meant by that statement was more I wish I was there to help. Or helped while I was there. I have really been thinking a lot lately about where I am in my life and where I am suppose to be in my life. I really do not know if they are the same. It seems things are happening that are really good, but the dark clouds are looming in the distance, the storm is a brewing and it does not look good. I really feel like something is wrong and I do not know what to do about it. I really wish I was more thoughtful and helpful, that I did not seem to always be putting my wife down. She is the love of my life, the woman I fell in love with the moment I first saw her, even in that split second, chance non meeting. She fills my soul with laughter, and makes me bubble over with joy when I’m in the same room with her. I always want her with me, and she is trying so hard to make this internship work, and to be a part of this congregation, and it seems I can not stop screwing things up. She is so wonderful and kind and generous with everything she does, and is truly the better half of me, and I can not seem to not make her feel like the lowest thing on the face of the earth. I wish she knew how much I love her; I wish I had the words to express what my life would be like if she was not in it. I truly do not know where I would be without her in my life. I can almost assuredly say it would not be here, where I am today. Sometimes I wish I was somewhere else, in some other time, or some other place, and then I realize I would not be able to see her, or hold her, or smell her… I need her in my life, and I love her so much. Why do we hurt the ones we love, why is it we trample those who treat us the best, and seem to just take take take, and never give in return. I hate myself for the way I treat her, I only hope she can forgive me for being who I am and still love me. It is not her fault; it is my fault that I’m an ass. Please love the one you love and do not let yourself get in the way. My darling Little Angel, I love you, and know you are doing the work of a thousand people by raising our children to be darling little angels. Please forgive me for the stupid things I say and do, know that I love you more than you will ever know, and cherish the time we have together, even though it does not always seem like it. I am trying to be a better husband, father, friend… Do not give up on me. I need you. You truly do complete me, and make me a better person. I love you. I’m sorry. Your Big Teddy Bear

Just don’t call me late to dinner!

Call me what you want to, just do not call me late to dinner! This is something I have heard all my life. A cute little pithy phrase… But what an impact it has in our faith tradition. As I was sending an email today it hit me that we are all called so many things, father, mother, wife, husband, son, daughter, coworker, boss, flunky, junky, beautiful, ugly, special, stupid, blessed…

As I think about the song Beloved by Todd Zielinski I think how we are all blessed, by the faith we have been given through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We have been named and claimed by God in our baptism. Named Beloved son or daughter of God. We are loved and claimed as an heir to the kingdom, part of the family, not the neglected step child, or the hated outcast. We are the loved child, the center of the parental attention. And we have been given a reserved seat at the table for all time, our place is secured, and we will not be called late to dinner.

So the world can call me what it will, and I can still hold my head high because of the inheritance I am secure in receiving, and I know I will not be called late to the feast to end all feasts!

Faith the size of a mustard seed…

Lord increase my faith! Lord add to my faith!

The Apostles, the ones who are sent asked for their master to add to their faith, not to give them faith, or make them better, but add to our faith…

Jesus replies that if they had the faith the size of a mustard seed. Mustard a weed. A non kosher plant. Something that would not have been allowed in a Jewish garden, yet something they would have known about… The smallest of all seeds, Jesus says that if our faith was as big as the smallest of all seeds, we could tell a tree to uproot itself and move into the ocean. And just what happens to this tree? Does it die in the ocean? We do not know, however we can assume since Jesus told us we could do this that the tree would continue to live, in the ocean. How rediculus is that, a tree growing in the middle of the ocean. Something growing someplace that it should not be, and thriving with life. What a dream come true! If we could only have the faith the size of a mustard seed, oh the dreams we could dream and they would come true! But we do not, we seek for Jesus to add to our faith, but he says we when we have done all that was commended, we will say we are worthless slaves and have done only what we ought to have done. Which is all we need to do! We have done what we ought, and that is what is expected. Do not think you should have done more, or you could have done more. I remember a wise man once told me we should and could ourselves to death. We are doing enough, and are using the faith we have and need not worry about having or doing more. And because we think we have not done enough, or are good enough, we call ourselves worthless slaves, yet are we truly worthless? Look what God did for us, remember the cross if you ever think you are worthless. Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the whole world, and if it would have only been me that was a sinner, he would of done the cross just the same. And if you were the only sinner, Jesus would have died on the cross for you! You are worht the blood of Jesus, the life of the son of God, none of us are worthless. A rich treasure was paid for each and everyone of us. Live in the faith you have, the faith that through grace has brought you into a living loving mercyfilled relationship with God, the faithfullness of Jesus to die on the tree, to allow his love to fall upon us, and shed his body and blood to give us a glorious reminder of his love and help us remember we are not worthless, and are doing our part.

Faith the size of a mustard seed in my mind is faith the size of Texas, yet the faith I have, if the faith I have received from Jesus, and it is sufficant for today, and his love has covered us all, and flows to us in our times of need. Love God, and remember what was done to allow you to be named and claimed by God, heir to the kingdom!

Who Are You?

Isn’t it interesting we are all apart of the Children of Abraham, just like the rich man. Look at the story again, Abraham calls him child, yet the rich man is not with Abraham, not in his chest as the Gk says… He is in Hades, on the other side of a chasm, a great divide that had separated him from Lazarus long before their deaths… Was he blessed as most Jewish Law scholars at that time would have agreed. God blesses those who walk with him, and punishes those who do not walk with him… And who am I to mess with that punishment… Even though OT Law and Prophets is full of looking out for the weak, the poor, the needy… Can I not help them see… Is it about us and them, or simply about us. It is not about what I have and what someone else may not, or what someone else has, and I may not… We are all covered by the grace of God, we are all claimed… Are we? Are we all named? In our baptism we are claimed by God and named, look at the synoptic baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22), Jesus is called the Beloved of God… God has named us all beloved. God has named us in our baptism, claimed us as his own, as a child of Abraham, and more importantly as a child of God. The world will call us rich, poor, ugly, fat, skinny, beautiful, gay, straight, weird, yuppie, outcast, in crowd, ________… God sees us all the same, and we need to look through those eyes, through the eyes of Xapis, not only my daughter — who judges no one, but loves and seeks to befriend everyone — but also through the Grace that allows us to be Children of God — the grace of love that fell from the tree!

The Who in the song Who are You? have some interesting lyrics. I admit I never really listened to the Who before, but as I was walking to church this morning I was struck with the text from the lectionary for this weekend, Luke 16:19-31. Most of us know this as the story of the Rich man and Lazarus. Many of may not realize upon first glance at this story that the rich man is not named, but Lazarus is, so big deal. The rich man has all kinds of money, wealth, wears the finest linens, and purple cloth, the sign of royalty. He feast lavishly everyday. The poor man, Lazarus, is named, is thrown to his place in life and the story, at the gate, where the dogs eat the scraps, and lick his wounds… At least the dogs see him we would say, when the rich man does not even acknowledge he is there… But the rich man must know he is there, because in Hades, from faraway he sees Lazarus, with Father Abraham. The rich man knows the name of Poor Lazarus! He knows him by name. The rich man calls on Father Abraham, and Abraham replies, “Child, remember…” The rich man is a child of Abraham, one of the chosen people, but is still not named. Lazarus was a child of the living God and was claimed as such. Was it because he was poor? Was the rich man condemned because he was rich? NO NO NO NO NO….

Wealth is a tool, and being from the richest country in the world, we need to use that tool to better the lives of everyone. 1 Timothy is often misquoted, it does not say Money is the root of all evil, but it says the love of Money is the root of all kinds of evil. When we love money, it becomes our God, and then being poor is a sin, but when we love God, and our neighbor as ourselves, then we can use the time, talent and treasure that God has given us. We need to be grieved over the ruin of Joseph as Amos tells us, we can drink from lavish bowls and feast lavishly, this is not a crime, but we have to remember our brothers and sisters, those in need today, do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for ourselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that we may take a hold of the life that really is life. It is not about us and them (them being the poor, the rich, the ugly, the beautiful, the ______) it is about US. We are all children of God.

In Who are the last 2 verses are:

I know there’s a place you walked

Where love falls from the trees

My heart is like a broken cup

I only feel right on my knees

I spit out like a sewer hole

Yet still receive your kiss

How can I measure up to anyone now

After such a love as this?

When I read this I imaged it being my discussion to Jesus, and it was a little augmented:

I know there is a place you walked

Where your love fell from the tree

My heat is like a broken cup

I only feel right on my knees

Even though I continually spit out like a sewer things I do not want to

Yet even so, I still receive your kiss, your love, your mercy

How can I measure up to anyone now

After such a love as this?

No matter what I have done, I have been claimed by God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ to die on that tree, to faithfully follow through, even when He did not want to If possible remove this cup from me, yet not my will but yours be done. We have been named and claimed, and given tools to proclaim Jesus to each other and to all the world.

In our prayer of the day for this Sunday we say God of love, you know our frailties and failings. Give us your grace to overcome them; keep us from those things that harm us; and guide us in the way of salvation; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Dan Nelson follows this up with: “In the Prayer of the Day we ask for God’s grace, not to forgive us for our failings and frailties, but to overcome them. And specifically, to overcome our urge to become wealthy and our indifference toward those who have less than we.” Do not forgive my short comings, my frailties, the weaknesses that make me me, but help me to over come them through your grace, so that the more we work together at this the reflection I see will no longer be me, but you Jesus, so that I will be more like you…

“Who are You?

I really wanna know,

Tell me, Who are You?

‘Cause I really wanna know.”

Who are you?

I am a Baptized sinner, claimed and named by God through that baptism.

Child Remember who you are, who has claimed you, and what was done to allow you to be claimed.

Life in the Fast Lane

Well Internship is spinning right along and the fun just keeps on coming. It seems like more and more stuff is being added and the time is slipping through my fingers…

My wife went on a retreat to the beach this past weekend and I got to spend time with my two beautiful little girls who are growing up way too fast for me. Upon my wife’s return she ommented on how the littlest one, or the youngest I should say had many more words in her vocabulary than she had when my wife left for the beach. Vitamin, brush my teeth, please, thank you… All coming across much more clearly at least to us. As they continue to grow and say things and comeup with ideas that we sit back and think just where did that come from, I wonder how much I miss by being here at the computer, or here at the church, or here in the classroom, or here leading worship… One could ask is it worth being here?

Than I muse, I was called to this vocation, to this way of life. It is something that brings me great joy and connects me with where God is working. It allows me to have a piece in the kingdom of God, today, tomorrow, and forever. Is it worth missing time with me kids and family? Somedays yes, somedays no, but it is worth spending the time with God, and figuring everything else out in the meantime. I tell myself I need to look at the world, especially my world, the world I think I have all figured out through the eyes of my daughters, and see it as a child, the child that I am, the child of of God. God wants me to be with, work with, play with, love with, hang with, insert ______ with God all the time. God has called me to be with him, and walk with him, to help people see him and love him, as only he can love us.

Yesterday I spent some time at the Allegheny Synod office, and Bishop Pyle lead us in a study on 1 Corinthians 1:18-25… This is where Paul talks about the cross being a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to the Gentile. Well my pastor always said that stumbling blocks are interesting things, because they make you stop, or at least slow down and look over your shoulder, or turn around and see what you stumbled over. The cross is something we should trip over sometimes, becasue it is the one thing we should never loss sight of. It is foolishness to us, because why did God have to do this in this way? He could have just saved us all, but God went through, or on, the cross, the one focus, we need. by this thougth I am reminded of my internship sites mission statement: to proclaim Jesus Christ to each other and all the world. To do this we have to be focused on the cross, be cross eyed, as Hebrews 12:2 says…

Well in the madness of missing my children, I do get those moments that help me know this is where we are all suppose to be, like when my oldest daughter prays the Lord’s Prayer while her mother and I pray with the youngest at bed time, or the youngest says amen really loud after a prayer, or when they both try to say the apostles creed, or part of the liturgy…..

God’s plan may not line up with what we think our reality should be, but that is where the issue is…

In our reality, we should look at life like children, seeing everything with wonder filled anticipation, knowing that God is walking with us and guiding us along the way.

Beginnings of a blog

Here it is…

The first post on my blog. Today has seen many different emotions and ups and downs. I have just started my internship for my candidacy for ordained ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). It has been a wonderful excruciating experience. It has seen many ups and downds, and is only on the fourth week! But it will be a good experience and will see many new educational experiences for me and possibly for those I am serving.

I started this blog because of another blog I read Deep Water by Todd found at http://www.the-well.org/blogs/

You can see my commetn there, or here it is:

Did not Martin Luther uphold the priesthood of all believers? Are we all not called by God to doa part in the kingdom here? Are we all not a part of the body of Christ each with his/her own part to play, job to do? If we are not using the gift of the spirit we have been given in this world, how can the kingdom ever come to be? The truth is God will do it with us, and even inspite of us, but our church leaders will not be burned out as quickly or even at all if the congregations believe they are called to play a part in the kingdom of God here, and play the part in Lay ministry. We are all invited to be at the feast, so let us use our gifts and help prepare for the feast!

I believe we are all called for a part in the kingdom of God, a part of the plan is given to use. It may be to clean up the mess of a party, or the mess no one wants to clean…

But if that is our gift then shouldn’t we use our gift? Jesus followed through on the path laid before him, even when it seemed it wasn’t where he wanted to go. Remember in the garden, if it is possible remove this cup from me, yet not my will, but yours be done (asacredrebel paraphrase). Even when we doubt, God has a place for us, we have a place in that plan, in the Kingdom of God.

Step out with the courage you can have, because Jesus walks with you and has prepared the path set before you!