Monthly Archives: February 2015

In Need Of Laughter

llamas-featuredIn Need of Laughter

I won’t be disappointed when February is over this year.

It’s been a dark and gloomy month – and I’m not just talking about the weather. I’m guessing I’m not alone in feeling a bit dragged down by world, local, and personal news of late because yesterday the whole social media world seemed to need a break from it all.

We took a break from the gloom and doom to watch two llamas chasing each other in Arizona and to cast our vote whether a dress was white and gold or blue and black.

If you didn’t catch the folderol, here’s a video of the llamas:

And here’s a picture of the dress. (If you want to start an argument, show it to your friends – it’s true, some will say it’s white and gold and others will insist it’s blue and black.)

If you’ve never used social media such as Facebook or Twitter, I doubt these two items will convince you to sign up. They aren’t a bit useful or helpful. They aren’t ‘deep’ by any stretch of the imagination. They don’t provide meaning to life; they don’t solve any of the world’s problems; they don’t feed the hungry.

But they were fun. And laughter can be holy.


Life Wild and Precious

barn-owl-220498_640Ash Wednesday: Life Wild and Precious

February 18, 2015

Matthew 6:1-6; 16-21

It has been said that Ash Wednesday is the day

when Christians attend their own funerals.[i]

“Remember you are dust

and to dust you shall return.”

We look at death on Ash Wednesday

not in a morbid way I think,

but in an honest way.

We have a limited time here on earth.

Mary Oliver writes in her poem, “The Summer Day,”:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?”

That’s what we think about on Ash Wednesday.

I’m very much alive.

You’re very much alive.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Continue reading

Writing Memoirs

memoirTransfiguration B Writing Memoirs

February 15, 2015

2 Kings 2:1-12
Mark 9:2-9

A question for us to ponder today:

If you were to write your memoirs today,

what moments would you include?

I was at a pastors’ meeting earlier this week

and one of my colleagues mentioned a parishioner of hers who has a new business –

the business is helping others write their memoirs.

What was also interesting to me is that she’s found that

the two groups of people who are most interested in writing their memoirs?

Pilots and pastors!

I’ve been pondering that ever since.

What inspires someone to write their memoirs?

My guess is that people who write memoirs

have had a number of transfiguring moments…transforming moments…

moments have been life-changing enough

that they want to share them with others.

Peter, James and John would have had plenty of material!

Who knows exactly what happened on that mountain?

I won’t try to explain a first- century miracle.

God’s spirit transformed Jesus.

I can’t explain it and don’t know exactly what happened,

yet I know that God’s spirit also transforms people today –

that I’ve seen. Continue reading

A Poem for Valentine’s Day

valentineA Poem for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day often reminds me of poetry.

I think of the simple rhyming verses I wrote to my classmates in elementary school. They all received the same poem without distinction: lunch table friends, the girl who just moved to town, the boy whom my mother insisted I include. Everyone got the standard Valentine’s Day poem of the year “from Jeanette.”

Later I became more discerning. No longer writing my own poems, I spent too much time it seemed in front of the display at the Hallmark store, going through card after card, searching for the right sentiment. Funny? Schmaltzy? From the dog?

It can be difficult to express love, and perhaps even more so with the pressure of a holiday.

As it can be difficult to express love, it often is just as difficult to receive love.  I often return to a poem by the seventeenth century poet George Herbert. It speaks to me of our struggle to allow ourselves to be fully and completely loved…in particular to be loved by God.

Enjoy! (and Happy Valentine’s Day!)

Love (III)


Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back

Guilty of dust and sin.

But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack

From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,

If I lacked any thing.

A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:

Love said, You shall be he.

I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,

I cannot look on thee.

Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,

Who made the eyes but I?

Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame

Go where it doth deserve.

And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?

My dear, then I will serve.

You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:

So I did sit and eat.

In Christ,

Pastor Jen

Source: George Herbert and the Seventeenth-Century Religious Poets  (W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1978)

Household of Healing

peters-house-at-capernaum-tiberiasEpiphany 5B Household of Healing

Mark 1:29-39

February 8, 2015

I came across a book this week

that made me think of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law.

It’s called “Being Dead Is No Excuse:

The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral.”

(Some of you could have probably written it!)

From the Table of Contents, it seems quite thorough;

everything from funeral home etiquette to recipes.

Doesn’t it strike you a bit odd that the poor woman is lying in bed with a fever,

is finally healed by Jesus,

and instead of taking it easy, she’s up and serving them in the same sentence?

Apparently being “nearly dead” is no excuse either!

When Lazarus is raised from the dead,

does he go and make dinner?

I’ll save you the time in looking it up.

The answer is ‘no’!

According to John chapter 12, after he’s raised,

Lazarus reclines at table and eats with Jesus.

Continue reading

All About That Badge (‘bout that badge, ‘bout that badge…)

photo (9)All About That Badge (‘bout that badge, ‘bout that badge…)

If you listen at all to pop music, you’ve probably heard Meghan Trainor’s song, “All About That Bass.”

And if you look at all at YouTube videos, you’ve probably seen at least one parody of the song: written by a family for Thanksgiving (“All About That Baste”); by a group of NASA interns (“All About That Space”); by some Star Wars fans (“All About That Base”); by some librarians (“All About Those Books”); and even by some fishermen (“All About The Bass”)!

This Sunday is Scout Sunday and so I’ve been reflecting about my brief time as a Brownie followed by a few years as a Girl Scout. I confess, that at the time, for me, it was “All About That Badge” (‘bout that badge, ‘bout that badge).

I was proud to earn badges for cooking and music, camping and art. Receiving a badge gave me a sense of accomplishment. It was a tangible marker of achievement.

And then I “graduated” from Girl Scouts and there were no more badges.  And I went to Confirmation class and learned that we Lutherans weren’t really about the badges but about the grace (‘bout that grace, ‘bout that grace…)

But sometimes I look around and I really wish I could give out some badges.

How about a parenting badge? I see families trying to share time and values with their children when it’s increasingly difficult to do so. You deserve a badge!

How about a vocational badge? I see people looking to find meaning in their daily work and others who are searching for work which provides meaning. You deserve a badge!

How about a badge for endurance? Some of you have chronic pain. Some of you have family members who have repeatedly disappointed you. Some of you feel trapped in your life circumstances. You deserve a badge too!

Our adult struggles don’t end with a celebration and the gift of a badge of achievement that we can wear for all to see.  They change us internally. They become part of us. They make us human. They help us have compassion for others.

Others will see not the badge, but the fruit of the badge. (And nothing needs to be sewn or ironed on!)

In Christ,

Pastor Jen

What Evil Lurks

Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt

Epiphany 4B What Evil Lurks

Mark 1:21-28

February 1, 2015

The unclean spirit says to Jesus ,

“What have you to do with us..?

Have you come to destroy us?”

The verse is difficult to translate

because of the idioms in the original Greek.

Luther seminary professor Matt Skinner suggests a better translation might be something like this:

“Why are you picking this fight?” or

Couldn’t you have just left things as they were between us?”

Jesus’ answer is ‘no.’

The good news about Jesus in today’s reading

is that he refuses to leave things the way they are.

He confronts, challenges, opposes, and defies evil.

Continue reading