Sunday, September 13, 2009

He Stretched His Arms Out Upon the Cross

Today’s service was a visual example of the meaning of the action of Christ upon the cross.

It was Community Speaks Sunday and, as is our custom, we had a guest speaker, Kay Briggs, who is author of the book The Magic Seashells. The Magic Seashells is Kay’s story about her recovery and healing from sexual abuse she received as a child. Hers is a beautiful message about how she tried to live out her life in the perfect appearance so often demanded by our society, keeping her experiences and troubles a secret, until she learned that to heal from the hurt done to her as a child she had to embrace the darkness of her experience and find God’s love within it.

We also blessed and said goodbye to a member who is on a journey away from us. He is headed off to prison for the crime of downloading child pornography and will serve several years in the state facility. He knew better than to do what he did. He feels bad about it and asked over a year ago for forgiveness and we gave it with a lovely service of prayer and laying on of hands in blessing in the hopes that his journey will find him healed at the end. We all knew his day to leave would come. We just didn’t know it was going to be today.

I worry about this man because I know that what he did has made him an outcast to some of our church, society at large, and will also do the same to him in prison. From my ex who is a jailor, “inmates all have children and they hate child abusers so any inmate that they learn has hurt children has to be locked away in administrative detention to save their life from the other inmates who will beat them up and try to kill them.” So he may end up in solitary for the next few years just to live. Even if he doesn’t enter solitary confinement he certainly can’t make friends with anyone and reveal his offense.  It’s a long and lonely road he has ahead of him.

Kay’s message was a blessing to me and I know that it wasn’t easy what she did, learning to accept herself and be open about her experiences. Kay may have had her own prison of sorts trying to live out the lie of perfection. I’ve known other people who experienced child abuse and it’s a lonely misfit life they live until they find healing for that hurt. 

After we prayed for him, our departing member, I sat there and thought about what that meant, the welcoming of a victim of child abuse and prayerfully blessing an enabler of it. It seemed such a dichotomy. So radical. So extreme! From victim to criminal, Christ’s forgiving love was exemplified by the actions of our priest and the community. That is such a huge stretch that it boggles the mind. Is there nothing that God can’t or won’t forgive, fix, or heal? Apparently not. So I think that for the next few days, or perhaps weeks, I’ll be thinking about how wide Christ’s arms stretched when he laid them down upon that cross for us all. It’s a humbling thought.

May the love of God enfold each and everyone of you today and everyday! Peace! Hope! & Joy!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Affordable Dining

My church has a pretty good outreach program. We work with all kinds of ministries trying to reach out to our neighborhood and community at large. The newest program we’ve just started sponsoring is Angel Food Ministries. This is a service that provides food for less than you might pay at your local supermarket. There are various packages of food stuffs you can buy through this service. Most of this is not prepared. You do your own cooking. For those who are on food stamps, having a hard time with the budget, or just want to stretch your resources you can order one or two of the food packages which most closely meets your needs and pay for them when you order. Then on delivery day, about two weeks after the order deadline, you go to the local host site and pick up your order.

This will be the first month we’ve been a host site and I’m ordering. After looking at the monthly menu I chose the signature package and am considering the senior convenience package as well. What the signature package has is several pounds of meat, some frozen vegetables, sacks of potatoes and onions, fruit juice, eggs, and shelf stable milk. The contents are sufficient to feed a family of 4 for a week. Being single I’m pretty sure I can stretch that to at least 2 weeks maybe more. The senior convenience box has 10 frozen dinners and desserts. Those two boxes of food will run me less than I usually spend at the store when I shop for 2 weeks. The reason I’m only considering, rather than determined to buy, the convenience box is that I tend to be a bit lazy. Having food I don’t need to cook would probably mean that the microwave dinners would be used first and the food that requires cooking would be used last. I think the selling point on that will be how large the frozen dinners are. So I’ll ask. Another strong contender for purchase on my part is the produce box. But if I buy that I’d have more potatoes than I could use in a couple of months and some fruit that might go to waste. Guess I don’t need to tell you that waste would eradicate the savings in this.

The food looks appealing in the pictures on the website and there are recipes to suggest ways of using the food. The members who suggested this ministry checked it out and assured us that it is quality food. I explored the website a bit further and there’s a nice online magazine that has recipes and articles on how the service has helped. It has some spiritual articles too. San Antonio, being a major city, has quite a few host sites. If you don’t live in a large city you can probably drive to a nearby site either in your town or another one nearby. This service is popular with churches. So I’d like to encourage you to check out the website. Just go here. There’s a nice user friendly menu of additional pages with more info on the upper right of the home page. I’ll let you know how this experiment in affordable dining turns out.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Puzzle Share and Bits of News

Click to Mix and Solve
It's been a slow week. The highlight of it has been playing tons of Scrabble with Sandi. I think we broke our record number of games yesterday by playing 2 in the morning and 5 that evening for a grand total of 7 games. By the end of the last game we were so beat mentally that we had to stop. LOL I think we both wonder what our endurance level can be and maybe we are gearing up to find out. I think it would be interesting to have an all day Scrabble marathon. Not that I could sit still that long but with planned breaks it might be possible. That probably means I might find a Scrabble competition interesting. So I guess I'll add that to the future things to do wish list.

Lately I've been working on planning a liturgy. It's part of my verger training and I'm helping our Associate Rector plan the All Saints service. We both feel we need to put an action in the service that makes the remembering significant to all. We also want to focus on remembering and, in doing so, celebrate the lives, rather than focus on the death, of those who've been saints in our lives and in our faith community.

In study to prepare for this planning, Matt asked me to read a chapter or two in a couple of books. The Book of Sacramental Basics by Tad Guzie really struck me as meaningful. I like the way Guzie breaks things down, moves from one point to the next in clear stages, and has vivid explanations or examples to illustrate each of his points. The man was a gifted teacher. I only read one chapter in the book and am thinking I need to find a copy for my own library as it will surely give me more food for thought. The other book I read in was Beyond Smell & Bells by Mark Galli. It's good but I liked the Guzie book better.

In a week I start another scoring project at Pearson. It will last from 2 to 3 weeks and it will feel nice to be busy again. My friend Jenny will be scoring on it too. Yay, company for lunch! The weather is cooling off and the daytime temperatures are down into the 90's. Yesterday we had rain and there is hope for some more today and possibly tomorrow.

Today's puzzle was so beautiful that I just had to share it. I find it very delicate and I love the contrast of pale yellow against the blue of the lavender flowers. Enjoy!

Friday, September 04, 2009

New Artist – New Song on Playlist

A fellow blogger, Alt of Bones of the Sky blog, has put up a video of a young man, Joe Pug, who is just starting his music career. I found the performance riveting! The lyrics to Hymn 101 are intense and thought provoking! I kept listening to it over and over. When I realized this I added it to the playlist. If you’d like to, you can find him on YouTube or there is a website for him here. To see and hear the video on Alt’s blog go here. Enjoy!