Thursday, September 09, 2004

Contradictory Waves

“History moves in contradictory waves,” Lois Beck wrote, “not in straight lines.” As happens with pebbles in water, it is the push and pull of the undercurrent of our lives that smooth us out and wear us down to our real selves.” ~ Joan Chittister, Living Well

The month’s theme in these readings has to do with God’s promise of a birthright to Israel ~ a promise not realized for many years after first hearing of it ~ not even in the lifetime of some of those present in the beginning.

It’s hard but needful to realize that what God wants done in the world may involve us but not include us in the final realization of things like peace and reconciliation. We may spend our lives living toward a day that God intends ~ and yet miss it ourselves. And still, our lives matter. What happens to us matters and the meaning of our lives is never lost in the greater project of God’s will for the world.

Ours is the task of being reluctant to give up. . or to pass quick too quick a judgment about God’s way of doing things. Success, it seems to me, lies in our never trying to go it alone ~ but rather, to stay together and encourage each other in patience, quietness and common knowledge that God knows what is best.

Julia will preach this Sunday from Luke 15:1-10. Read it through a time or two. It’s also promotion Sunday for Sunday School classes ~ with presentations for those moving from 3rd to 4th grade. I will see you on Sunday morning. Blessings, Pastor Annette

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Summer is ending

I had a great vacation time and am grateful for the time away. Carl and I finally finished the screened in porch out back and would love for you to stop by and see it as you have time/interest. Peter Oluli is working very hard to dig a French drain system in our back yard so that our patio can be poured soon. If you don’t know what a French drain system is, don’t feel bad. Essentially, it means Peter has to dig a very deep hole and several long trenches, all the while moving, by hand or with my very small yard cart, enormous amounts of very heavy dirt. He is keeping a very happy heart through it all. He told me that Cody (the golden retriever) tried to help but is no good with the spade!

Grandma and I canned 39 quarts of tomatoes and she did all the messy work – cleaning, skinning, slicing etc. Lucky me. I also picked about 2 pies worth of blackberries. No new jam this year as my crop is small and the dog has eaten most of what he can reach.

Grandma & Grandpa both live with us and we took both to several doctor appointments last week. We learned that her cancer is spreading unchecked in her liver so chemo treatments are being changed to an oral method that might be helpful. Grandpa's heart problems that continue to worsen. In addition, we got word yesterday of another death in Grandma's family; the second in four months. Carl won’t take Grandma to Arkansas for the funeral as the trip is too hard. In all, she is still up and about, doing laundry, feeding my kids and such. Grandpa is tired most of the time and naps a lot.

The children and I are busy getting ready for school. All the too small clothes are going out so we know what we need. They've grown like weeds this summer. My son's feet are as big as mine now ~ and he is only 9! I'm sad for the end of long days with no homework. I look foward to a quieter house where I can work at home in the afternoons!

All and all, it's been a long and lovely summer! Blessings, Annette

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Praying to Be

Even these trees out my window, now at their most lush, are but a temporal thing ~ less real than the love of God, less true than the Holy Spirit which pours that love into our hearts.

We are, all of us, fallen and weak creatures for whom joy is an ever escaping thing. We give our discomforts power greater than they actually possess, rooted in fear as they are.

Our fears . . . they are fears of loss and change and not knowing. We pray to know, as if we can. We do not pray simply to be. . .believing that we could never do that~just be.

Therein is our deepest, most unspeakable fear ~ not to exist. And so we think and speak and act, thereby earning the right to exist.

God told the prophet that human sacrifices were not wanted. Broken hearts are wanted ~ hearts that are empty save for the want of God.

Help me, O God, to be as you desire ~ to be at a complete loss for thoughts and words and deeds which surely are meant only to prove my right to live. Help me to believe; deep down truly and only believe that in your love alone I am worthy.

Were I to believe ~ I could be at peace and fully joyful.

~ Annette

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Back From Camp

What do I do with my time?

Girl Scouts is something I do. My troop of 14 girls has been together through Daisies (kindergarten) and the first year of Brownies. They are all seven years old now. Each meeting we share stories; things that made us feel happy or sad or angry. Most of these conversations are of teeth loose, teeth lost, teeth coming in. Occasionally there is a new brother/sister born, or a puppy adopted. This year two girls lost grandpas.

Last week we went to Day Camp. The weather was finer than fine; cool and sunny. We swam and hiked and walked in a creek. We did crafts and sang song and ate lunch outside. We washed and kissed lots of scraped knees. We laid on quilts and listened to Miss Mary (another leader) read Nancy Drew's Mystery at Camp.

College students come to campus for cultural immersion studies. Day Camp has a similar quality. There, I am fully immersed in the culture of childhood. I find it both lovely and a bit sad. It's sad to me that children need to be entertainment. At the edge of the creek, they ask what they are supposed to do next. I say, "Go play" and they are wide-eyed at the prospect. What's lovely is how they take to it. Childhood kicks in and they are climbing rocks, slooping through the mud or utterly still, watching a fish.

It's meant for them but good for me. . . a week with nothing more important to do than watch a fish or sit in the woods with a kid on my lap. I doubt there is more necessary work in all the world ~ to sit like a child in the cool of creation and be grateful for it.

Blessings, Pastor Annette

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Start out slowly . . . and then taper off

Back at work after several weeks of leave, my intention is to stay as centered in the midst of my "normal" life as I did when I had hours and hours to myself. It is no small thing to want. Like everyone else I know, my "normal" day is full of things I love to do among people with whom I love to be. Among and between these things and people much is exchanged ~ needs and comforts, help given and help recieved. Easily does that sense of centeredness slip out the side pocket of my conciousness. In no time at all, I'm mentally rushing here and there, working hard to beat the clock ~ the alarm that says this day has run out and everything must be put off till tommorrow.

I've learned, and am learning, that if I do that first hour right ~ the rest usually follows. Doing it right means, for me, starting out slowly. . . and then tapering off. It means waking up slowly, rising rested, giving the kids my full attention till they are on the bus, sitting on the porch and just listening/watching until my insides do this little mental/spiritual exhale that tells me it's time to get ready for the next part ~ work, house, whatever. Through the day, when that little demon in my head offers her the only word she knows, "hurry. . .hurry. . .hurry" ~ therein is my cue ~ breathe, slow down, wait. On the occasional day that goes as I intended, the time lengthens and day's end is not a judgement but a curse. . . a gift. . .a joy.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Writing Day

Friday is writing day ~ the day that reading, prayer and study hopefully coalesce and fall onto a page in the shape and sound of a sermon.

The most difficult part is carving out the 3-4 hours of uninterrupted quiet needed for that to happen. Half the interruptions are external; ringing phone, sick kids, kids who need me to visit their classrooms, etc. But the other half are my own; inability to sit still, constant temptation to see what's in the fridge/on the bookshelf/etc.

The best plan I've been able to find is scurrying myself into the corner of some library or bookstore with my laptop cabled to the chair. The spot must be mildly uncomfortable (Barnes & Noble keeps the a/c at about 50 degrees, Borders cafe chairs are horrible, people who sleep at the library tend to snore) so that I am very motivated to get finished.

My text is Romans 5:1-5. Paul says we have peace with God through Jesus, through whom we have gained access to this grace in which we now stand. An old commentary I'm reading describes grace as the treasure house, a grand room full of riches into which we are all brought by God's intention and desire. Our choice is what manner of shopping bag we shall carry in, fill and spend from. Some choose a tiny basket, big enough for a single coin. Others bring their own cart, so wide they can fill it with more than can be spent in a lifetime.

We shall see what the day brings to the page ~ and into hearing this coming Sunday. Blessings! Annette

Thursday, June 03, 2004

My first blog. . . . .

The one teaching me to "Blog", who happens to be a congregant, suggests that somebody somewhere might wonder what a pastor does all day.

Personally, I have no idea what most pastors are doing. But I hope they are enjoying this life as much as I do. First, I sat on the porch swing and wrote in my journal. Then I assembled the marinade for the chicken we will eat for supper. Once on the way to work, I talked on the phone ~ but only briefly for I was due at the 3rd grade science fair where I visited our three UBC 3rd graders. I learned what makes a rubber band stretchy, that you cannot see a coin underneath a jar full of water but you can see one through an empty jar. Also, I watched a tornado in a 2 liter bottle. Amazing.

I am also knitting a red/white/cream afghan for my son. Knitting will be a regular feature of this blog ~ as will reading, cooking, kids, flowers and the stories that make me happy, sad, angry and confused.

After lunch, I read Karl Barth, a German theologian. My favorite sentence, in comments on Romans 5, is "The merry men of God are merry where there is no merriment; and this is the boasting of the man who is righteous by faith." Come Sunday and you (hopefully) will hear more. Must sign off and meet with our worship planning group.

I love this pastoring life! Annette