27 March 2007


...and I'm having some major trouble concentrating and focusing. Mostly for the things I ought to be doing.

I spent 4 pleasant hours rewiring our computers over the weekend. It was lovely. And I'm very happy, because now things are in order (you know, back in the corner that no one ever sees).

But that reading I should have done weeks ago? Not so much.

20 March 2007

entertain me, lovely meme!


large font = read
italic = want to read
strikeout = do NOT want to read
+ = on my shelf
* = never heard of it

(plus combinations thereof)

1. +The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. +To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. +Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. *A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. *A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. *Fall on Your Knees(Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. *The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. +Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. +1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. *The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. *The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. *I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. *The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. +Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. *She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. *The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. *The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. *Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

76. *The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. *The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)

81. *Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. *Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. *Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

88. *The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. *Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. *Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. *In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
The Good Earth(Pearl S. Buck)
The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. *A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. *The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

16 March 2007

Me: find me a sugar cookie recipe!
Him: but I don't like sugar cookies.. let's make chocolate chip cookies instead.
Me: can we use my teapot shaped cookie cutters on chocolate chip cookies?
Him: no.. but why don't we use the cookie press?

pause.. pause.. pause.. brain working madly..

Me: We have a cookie press?
Him: since july.. it was a wedding present, remember?
Me: we have a cookie press???
Him: hello, you wrote the thank you note.
Me: oh, right, yes, of course..... is there anything else that we got that I might not remember having?

13 March 2007

Sermon, Third Sunday of Lent

Texts: Exodus 3:1-15; Psalm 103:1-11; Luke 13:1-9

Our Gospel passage for today is a text that I am uneasy with. I have a definite preference for Jesus as warm, fuzzy friend, Jesus as comforter, Jesus as the nice guy. This is, admittedly, false. And yet, I am not quite ready to let this image go. So when passages like today’s Gospel force me to listen to stories and parables that I don’t like, I am confronting not only the text itself but also the images of Jesus and God that are my own creation.

The first part of the Gospel recounts the story of Galilean pilgrims to Jerusalem who are martyred by Pilate at the Temple, “whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.” Not a pretty image. Jesus goes on to mention the people “who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them.” Again, not a pretty image.

And his response to both of these events is to say: “unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.”

Perish as they did.

Make no mistake; this is a message to us, to me and to you, despite the historical, cultural and religious distance of the examples. This message is not about dying in the same circumstances, but about being taken from this life unpreparedly. Jesus reminds his listeners that these tragic deaths were not a consequence of greater sins and offenses, but that tragedies happen to those who are good and bad alike, and this is all the more reason to repent.

For, when Jesus tells us to repent, we are being called to be aware, to be ready for what may come without warning. In the Great Litany, most often used during Lent, we pray: “from dying suddenly and unprepared, Good Lord, deliver us.” Jesus is not saying that by repenting we will not perish, but that we will, one day, perish in a different way.

Although it seems like this story (and this sermon, for that matter) are focusing rather morbidly on death, that is not what all of this is about. By reminding us of our limitations as human beings, and particularly that we are finite beings, we are being called to live more fully in the present time. And that brings me to the second half of the reading from Luke.

Despite the initial, summary judgment of the fig-tree – rejected as a failure – the parable offers a message of hope, for the gardener proposes to do something unusual, to take the last possible measures. The fig-tree has been granted a reprieve.

The “sin” of the fig-tree is not that it did something bad, or even that it did nothing – it has been growing for six years. During the first three years, Levitical Law forbids eating the fruit of the tree, and three more years had passed, during which the owner had looked in vain for fruit. The tree had not born fruit in six years, since it had first been planted, but it had been doing plenty: growing taller, digging its roots deeper into the ground, sending out leaves and branches.

And yet, the tree was expected to produce fruit. The fault, then, of the tree is that it is not doing what it is called, meant and intended to do.

Likewise, the question that we must face in Lent is not, Can I make it to Easter without eating sweets? Or, how can I manage to stay awake without my regular fix of caffeine? But, Am I doing what I have been created and called by God to do?

A fig tree is good when it does what it is created by God in its nature to do: to bear fruit. By bearing fruit, it fulfills its particular and God-given purpose in the world. It would be awfully easy to transfer this directly to human beings and declare that each of us, individually and collectively, are expected to bear fruit (in a metaphorical way, hopefully).

I think that is too simplistic. God created each one of us with our own set of gifts, skills, weaknesses, and strange quirks. Before I can ask, Am I doing what I have been created and called by God to do? I must first ask what it is that God asks particularly of me. And the first step to asking what it is that God created and called me to do is to take stock of what I have to work with – and what I have to work on – (because believe me, we all have both).

God has expectations and demands of us. This is sometimes hard to hear in a society that prizes individualism, autonomy, and independence. The reality that we claim as Christians is that we are not autonomous individuals, but that we are dependent on God’s grace, love and mercy and ultimately that we are subject to God’s judgment.

God asks – demands – of all of us three seemingly simple things: to heed his call, to bless his name, and to be faithful to his purpose for our lives. This is what we are all to do in order to live more fully. But we are also uniquely called: to teach, to heal, to give time, to feed the hungry, and even to study and learn.

Making an honest assessment of ourselves continually is one small part of living, as Jesus asks of us, a repentant life, ready for whatever may come. Your calling now may not be how God calls you in five or ten years; being ready requires that we pay attention to how we grow and change and how our calling evolves with us. From this assessment, we can begin to discern what God is creating and calling us to do now, and from there, we can begin to do it.

Toyohiko Kagawa, a Christian and a lay leader in Japan during the early part of the twentieth century, wrote in a poem:

I read
In a book
That a man called
Went about doing good.
It is very disconcerting to me
That I am so easily
With just
Going about.
The story of the fig tree - and the story of this poem - invite us to consider what we would do with the gift of another year. What will we do with God’s gift of time to us? Will we be satisfied with just going about as usual? Or will we instead take the opportunity to discover how we can live into God’s call more fully, more faithfully, and – perhaps – more fruitfully?



07 March 2007

i heart edamame!

I shouldn't be surprised -- I've long snacked on roasted soybeans/soynuts. But I never had edamame until I came across it in a stirfry bar last week. And so I got some from the store yesterday.

So tasty! Kind of buttery in the mouth, very different from true dried beans. They were super good in our stirfry last night! Especially with the creamy baked brown rice. I think that combination would make an excellent room temperature salad, actually.

And now that I've eaten up half my edamame, what will I do with the rest?

Whatever it is, it will be yummy!

05 March 2007

On the Way to Jerusalem,Take Risks

Texts: Psalm 27; Genesis 15:1-12,17-18; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13:31-35

The strangest thing about this story is who comes to Jesus to warn him of danger. Elsewhere, Luke presents the Pharisees as opponents of Jesus who seek to undermine his teaching and proclamation of the kingdom. Yet, it is the Pharisees who approach Jesus in the Gospel reading today, trying to dissuade him from continuing on the hazardous road to Jerusalem. They are unexpected advocates, even though – like the disciples – the do not fully understand what Jesus is about.

Perhaps we must re-imagine the Pharisees: not as adversaries, but as advocates. Although Jesus speaks of the Pharisees with caution, he also broke bread with them, at their invitation. The Pharisees so often appear to be in conflict with Jesus and his followers not because their teachings and practices were antithetical to those of Jesus, but because they had much more in common with one another than with the other movements in Judaism at the time.

Like Jesus and his followers, Pharisees of the first century interpreted prophetic works like Isaiah as scripture. They, unlike the Sadducees in particular, believed that scripture should in interpreted through reason and in light of changing circumstances. They welcomed Gentiles who wanted to follow their teaching. And, like Jesus, they placed the center of religious life not in the Temple, but in the daily practices of individuals, living in community with one another.

So: the Pharisees, seemingly the opponents of Jesus and his followers, are actually far more complicated, more human. They are not a homogenous group, anymore than any group can be lumped together. Some Pharisees, to be sure, were not in agreement with Jesus, but others became Christians, members of the body of Christ alongside Peter and the other apostles and along with us.

Jesus does not seem to welcome this advice, though, as well meaning as it is. Most of us have experienced the well-intentioned advice of others, and perhaps we’ve given some ourselves. It can sting, to have your advice rejected, especially if you’re doing your best to help the other person. Ask any parent of a teenager how it feels – it happens a lot at that time of parenting – and I can say this not as a parent, but as a former (and reformed) teenager.

In fact, Jesus’s response reminds me a lot of my own responses to well-intentioned counsel from very wise people. Although the message is nominally intended for Herod, in reality, Jesus is saying to the Pharisees: I know what I’m doing! I know where I’m going! He is saying, Thanks for the warning, but no thanks.

Now, I don’t know about you, but there is a part of me that just wants to scream. I wish I were there to give Jesus a piece of my mind. Doesn’t he know that he is putting himself at risk! Doesn’t he know that this is doomed! What on earth is he thinking?!?!

And of course, unlike most teenagers – and certainly unlike me, then and now – Jesus actually does know what he is doing. That is precisely what he tells the Pharisees and what he is saying to us. He is claiming his future for himself. It is not forced on him. It is a future that he accepts and welcomes as his work. He is willing to go towards a future that is at best uncertain and perilous, and at worst, fatal.

The question for us in Lent is not can we make it for forty days without our favorite sweets, but can we follow the Jesus to Jerusalem? Are we willing to accept a future that is risky, rather than comfortable?

At least for me, I like risk, sure, as long as I get to be comfortable too. I’m willing to take risks only insofar as I have security as well. I have to be wary of focusing so much on accumulating ‘stuff’, the good things of life. If things and accomplishments are my priority, I cannot enter fully into the journey that Jesus undertakes to Jerusalem. The things that I desire for myself aren’t the focus of the future that Jesus has embraced, and they cannot be the center of what it means to follow Jesus. These things are the physical stuff that we gather to us as a comfort, a sort of security blanket that leaves us more vulnerable because we can’t imagine life without it. We get addicted to the security of stuff, rather than embracing the liberty of letting go. And while we might reach the point of letting go of the physical things, we are less aware of the cultural “stuff” that we carry with us. It is the cultural mindset, this acquisitive impulse, that I will have more trouble shedding.

We set Lent apart in our tradition, for fasting from those things that are not necessary to our truest life as human beings. It is a time that reminds us of who we are in relationship to one another and to God. It is a time when we stand in opposition to our society and let go in many ways, small and large, of the things that bind us to this world. It is a time of preparation, a way of participating in Jesus’s walk to Jerusalem. We remember, in Lent, our priorities and our anxieties, just as Jesus did. And, just as Jesus claimed his future for himself, we too can claim our future: uncertain and perilous, to be sure, but also a journey we do not undertake alone.

Because, although Jesus walked to Jerusalem in the company of his disciples, his actions there – his death and resurrection – guarantee that he will be with us, as we practice the discipline of Lent, as we live into the way of the Cross, and as we struggle to set aside our love of earthly things.

Do not be deterred by the prospect of a difficult journey, because you are not alone. We do not walk as individuals but as members of the body of Christ. We walk with one another and with Jesus. The act of faith that Jesus modeled for us is fundamentally about accepting an ambiguous and challenging future and looking beyond it to the “means of grace and the hope of glory” that we have already in Jesus Christ. Amen.


03 March 2007


I am a

What Flower
Are You?