Friday, December 19, 2008

hard times

Dear ones,

Good morning everyone. I have chosen the canticle from Morning Prayer for today's selection. It has a verse that kept me going during a time that was quite difficult (quite difficult... that's my polite English side keeping my wilder Irish side from using other adjectives).  It seems like a story I read about rather than one I lived. When I was 21 years old, an undergrad in Michigan,  I was the victim of an attempted rape and murder. I escaped, but was badly badly beaten. The perp, although known (he was my Abnormal Psychology professor, Dr. Henry Orloff) was never put behind bars. I used to meditate on the verse from today's scripture "Violence will no more be heard in your land, ruin or destruction within your borders." Meditating on that verse helped me turn the corner (eventually)   from continuing to live in fear to tip toeing  into life again.   God is present, even in violence. God is present, even when destruction comes. God is present, always, to carry us through those times. Peace.  

Canticle 11 The Third Song of Isaiah 
Surge, illuminare Isaiah 60:1-3, 11a, 14c, 18-19

Arise, shine, for your light has come, *
and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.

For behold, darkness covers the land; *
deep gloom enshrouds the peoples.

But over you the Lord will rise, *
and his glory will appear upon you.

Nations will stream to your light, *
and kings to the brightness of your dawning.

Your gates will always be open; *
by day or night they will never be shut.

They will call you, The City of the Lord, *
The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

Violence will no more be heard in your land, *
ruin or destruction within your borders.

You will call your walls, Salvation, *
and all your portals, Praise.

The sun will no more be your light by day; *
by night you will not need the brightness of the moon.

The Lord will be your everlasting light, *
and your God will be your glory.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Move over Martha Stewart

The turkey at my sister's house - nice shot, huh?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

blessings passed down

Dear ones,

We survived the Treasure Hunt that we did for the twins birthday. My thoughts turn to another time when 11 years ago I was holding two new babies in my arms. I recall that wonderful newborn smell and the softness of their skin as if it just happened. There was an older woman at my church who was a twin and had been looking forward to the birth of my twins, but she had been battling cancer and was near death. It seemed like the only thing keeping her alive was meeting Robert and Maria (we called them Click and Clack then - we didn't know that we had a boy and girl until they were born). Her doctor kept calling me and asking when I was going to go into labor. He said that this woman, Zelda, was ready to die but refused to do so until she met my babies! Finally they came - and when we left the hospital our first stop, even before we went home, was to visit Zelda. Her twin sister came down from Reno for the occasion. They were 95 years old. In preparation to greet these new twins Zelda got out of bed and put on makeup so she could  look her best, and I have to say, she looked stunning. She shone with joy that day. I will never forget the image I have of Zelda and her sister holding these babies who had just come into the world. When Zelda held each one, she leaned over and whispered into their ears. She told me that she had to wait for their birth because  they needed to have the blessing of elder twins to welcome them into this world. I don't know what she whispered but I know that she passed on to them a powerful blessing for their lives.

Enjoy the readings. Take time to reflect on the questions that the poem asks. Peace. Debra+

Malachi. 3:13-4:6 (NRSV)

13 You have spoken harsh words against me, says the LORD. Yet you say, "How have we spoken against you?" You have said, "It is vain to serve God. What do we profit by keeping his command or by going about as mourners before the LORD of hosts? Now we count the arrogant happy; evildoers not only prosper, but when they put God to the test they escape." 16Then those who revered the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD took note and listened, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who revered the
LORD and thought on his name. 17They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, my special possession on the day when I act, and I will spare them as parents spare their children who serve them. 18Then once more you shall see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.

See, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts. Remember the teaching of my servant Moses, the statutes and ordinances that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. 5Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes. 6He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse. "

What's In The Temple?
In the quiet spaces of my mind a thought lies still, but ready to spring. 
It begs me to open the door so it can walk about. 
The poets speak in obscure terms pointing madly at the unsayable. 
The sages say nothing, but walk ahead patting their thigh calling for us to follow. 
The monk sits pen in hand poised to explain the cloud of unknowing. 
The seeker seeks, just around the corner from the truth. 
If she stands still it will catch up with her. 
Pause with us here a while. 
Put your ear to the wall of your heart. 
Listen for the whisper of knowing there. 
Love will touch you if you are very still.
If I say the word God, people run away. 
They've been frightened--sat on 'till the spirit cried "uncle." 
Now they play hide and seek with somebody they can't name. 
They know he's out there looking for them, and they want to be found, 
But there is all this stuff in the way.
I can't talk about God and make any sense, 
And I can't not talk about God and make any sense. 
So we talk about the weather, and we are talking about God.
I miss the old temples where you could hang out with God. 
Still, we have pet pounds where you can feel love draped in warm fur, 
And sense the whole tragedy of life and death. 
You see there the consequences of carelessness, 
And you feel there the yapping urgency of life that wants to be lived. 
The only things lacking are the frankincense and myrrh.
We don't build many temples anymore. 
Maybe we learned that the sacred can't be contained. 
Or maybe it can't be sustained inside a building. 
Buildings crumble. 
It's the spirit that lives on.
If you had a temple in the secret spaces of your heart, 
What would you worship there? 
What would you bring to sacrifice? 
What would be behind the curtain in the holy of holies?
Go there now.
~ Tom Barrett ~
(Keeping in Touch)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

malachi and aquinas

Dear ones,

Interesting reading from Malachi this morning. It is directed at the integrity of priests. Rest assured, I am not guilty of the things that the priests are accused of in this reading.  The poem is attributed to St/Thomas Quinas. I will have to go back to my old Aquinas textbooks and see if I can find more of his poetry. Peace. Rev Deb 

Malachi 2:1-16 (NRSV)

And now, O priests, this command is for you. 2If you will not listen, if you will not lay it to heart to give
glory to my name, says the LORD of hosts, then I will send the curse on you and I will curse your blessings;
indeed I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. 3I will rebuke your offspring, and
spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and I will put you out of my presence. 4Know, then,
that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may hold, says the LORD of hosts. 5My
covenant with him was a covenant of life and well-being, which I gave him; this called for reverence, and he
revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his
lips. He walked with me in integrity and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. 7For the lips of a priest
should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the
LORD of hosts. 8But you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your
instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts, 9and so I make you despised and
abased before all the people, inasmuch as you have not kept my ways but have shown partiality in your

10 Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another,
profaning the covenant of our ancestors? 11Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in
Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD, which he loves, and has married the
daughter of a foreign god. 12May the LORD cut off from the tents of Jacob anyone who does this-any to
witness or answer, or to bring an offering to the LORD of hosts. 13And this you do as well: You cover the Lord's
altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor
at your hand. 14You ask, "Why does he not?" Because the LORD was a witness between you and the wife of
your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15Did
not one God make her? Both flesh and spirit are his. And what does the one God desire? Godly offspring. So
look to yourselves, and do not let anyone be faithless to the wife of his youth. 16For I hate divorce, says the
LORD, the God of Israel, and covering one's garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So take heed to
yourselves and do not be faithless.

How is it they live for eons in such harmony -
the billions of stars -
when most men can barely go a minute
without declaring war in their mind against someone they know.
There are wars where no one marches with a flag,
though that does not keep casualties
from mounting.
Our hearts irrigate this earth.
We are fields before
each other.
How can we live in harmony?
First we need to
we are all madly in love
with the same
~ St. Thomas Aquinas ~
(Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West by Daniel Ladinsky)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

rending and healing

Dear ones,

The prophet Joel tells the people to rend their hearts, not their garments in today's reading. The practice of rending garments was written about in Genesis and is a sign of mourning. Joel calls for the real thing, not just a symbol. Most of you know that my first marriage ended in divorce after 14 years of marriage (it was an 'arranged marriage'  which is longer  story than my daily reading intro can deal with). A few years after the divorce, when I was in seminary and studying the practice of rending garments I decided to rend the garment of my first wedding dress as a sign of that marriage ending. I had no idea how hard it is to rend a garment! It's easier to split a 2x6 in half with your hands (that also is another story from my martial arts days!). I persisted and successfully 'rent' the garment and then sewed two of the pieces together to make a small baptismal stole for a young girl who had been sexually abused by a priest (she was only 2 years old when she came into my life).  I carefully stitched the tear together and sewed a cross over the tear in the fabric. It was very healing for my soul to do that. What do you mourn? What do you carry in your heart that you need to let God take care of for you?

Thanks to Evelyn Wickham for the poem we have for today. Peace.   Debra+

Joel 2:12-19 (NRSV)

12 Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with
mourning; 13rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and
merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. 14Who knows whether he
will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD,
your God? 15Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; 16gather the people. Sanctify the
congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his
room, and the bride her canopy. 17Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD,
weep. Let them say, "Spare your people, O LORD, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among
the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, 'Where is their God?'"

18 Then the LORD became jealous for his land, and had pity on his people. 19In response to his people the LORD
said: I am sending you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied; and I will no more make you a mockery among the nations.



Now when the breath of frost has chilled

The waiting aspens, when the sky

Has floated the birds to another country

and summer’s brook goes dry,


I can review and list my losses

Without complaint, shoulder my grief

While the cold-fingered wind strips

My heart of its last leaf,


And watch time’s plow turn under days

Like stubble, I must lace my boots

And fill the cellar bins – they winter,

Trees, in their roots.

~James Hearst,  Snake in the Strawberries

Monday, November 3, 2008

Today's reading comes from the book of Ecclesiasticus again. There are many days I find myself disagreeing with the words of scripture. This is one of them. I think that incredible wisdom comes from those laborers that are described in the following passage. Read it, engage in it, talk to God about it. God loves to engage in dialogue!  My grandfather, God rest his soul, was an amazing craftsman. He made his living as an engraver. I remember sitting next to him when I was a child and watch while he  carefully engraved etchings into copper that would become a piece of art or a logo for some business. He was a loving and steady  presence in an otherwise chaotic childhood. 

Also, I ask your prayers today for Tracie Schissel and the repose of the soul of her sister, Leslie. Leslie died yesterday from Lyme disease. I met Tracie and Leslie a few weeks ago at a Lyme Disease Conference. Leslie looked healthy and vibrant, but Lyme is a very strange disease. I went to the conference to learn more about Lyme because my son Cory (32 years old) was diagnosed with it. He moved in with us 6 months ago so we can help him. You can follow the link  to if you wish to know more about Lyme disease. It is more prevalent than you might think. Patty Butler's niece is recovering from it and MaryJane Ostrom's son was diagnosed with it several months ago. Please hold them all in prayer.

Here is the reading and a poem for today:

 Ecclesiasticus 38:24-34
"The wisdom of the scribe depends on the opportunity of leisure; only the one who has little business can become wise.  How can one become wise who handles the plow, and who glories in the shaft of a goad, who drives oxen and is occupied with their work, 
and whose talk is about bulls?  He sets his heart on plowing furrows, and he is careful about fodder for the heifers.  So it is with every artisan and master artisan who labors by night as well as by day; those who cut the signets of seals, each is diligent in making a great variety; they set their heart on painting a lifelike image, and they are careful to finish their work. 

So it is with the smith, sitting by the anvil, intent on his iron-work; the breath of the fire melts his flesh, 
and he struggles with the heat of the furnace; the sound of the hammer deafens his ears, and his eyes are on the pattern of the object. 
He sets his heart on finishing his handiwork, and he is careful to complete its decoration.  So it is with the potter sitting at his work 
and turning the wheel with his feet; he is always deeply concerned over his products, and he produces them in quantity.  He molds the clay with his arm and makes it pliable with his feet; he sets his heart to finish the glazing, and he takes care in firing  the kiln. 

All these rely on their hands, and all are skillful in their own work.  Without them no city can be inhabited, 
and wherever they live, they will not go hungry. Yet they are not sought out for the council of the people, nor do they
attain eminence in the public assembly. They do not sit in the judge's seat, nor do they understand the decisions of the courts; 
they cannot expound discipline or judgment, and they are not found among the rulers.  But they maintain the fabric of the world, 
and their concern is for  the exercise of their trade. How different the one who devotes himself to the study of the law of the Most High!"

Tracie Schissel and Leslie Wermers

Saturday, November 1, 2008

poetry from a site I subscribe to called Panhala

Let's remake the world with words.
Not frivolously, nor
To hide from what we fear,
But with a purpose.
Let's, As Wordsworth said, remove
The dust of custom" so things
Shine again, each object arrayed
In its robe of original light.
And then we'll see the world
As if for the first time.
As once we gazed at the beloved
Who was gazing at us.
~ Gregory Orr ~

Reading from the Daily Office

The lesson today comes from Ecclesiasticus 31:12-18,25-32:2 and the poem is from a favorite author of mine, Wendell Berry. Enjoy. It provides some good 'grist for the mill' to reflect upon.

Ecclesiasticus:  "Are you seated at the table of the great?Do not be greedy at it,  and do not say, "How much food there is here!"  Remember that a greedy eye is a bad thing.  What has been created more greedy than the eye? Therefore it sheds tears for any reason.   Do not reach out your hand for everything you see, and do not crowd your neighbor  at the dish.  Judge your neighbor's feelings by your own, and in every matter be thoughtful. Eat what is set before you like a well brought-up person, and do not chew greedily, or you will give offense. Be the first to stop, as befits good manners,  and do not be insatiable, or you will give offense. If you are seated among many persons, not help yourself  before they do. 

Do not try to prove your strength by wine-drinking,  for wine has destroyed many. As the furnace tests the work of the smith, so wine tests hearts when the insolent quarrel. 
Wine is very life to human beings if taken in moderation.  What is life to one who is without wine?  It has been created to make people happy. 
Wine drunk at the proper time and in moderation is rejoicing of heart and gladness of soul. Wine drunk to excess leads to bitterness of spirit, to quarrels and stumbling. 
Drunkenness increases the anger of a fool to his own hurt, reducing his strength and adding wounds.  Do not reprove your neighbor at a banquet of wine, 
and do not despise him in his merrymaking; speak no word of reproach to him, and do not distress him by making demands of him.  If they make you master of the feast, do not exalt yourself; be among them as one of their number. Take care of them first and then sit down; when you have fulfilled all your duties, take your place, 
so that you may be merry along with them and receive a wreath for your excellent leadership."


How do you handle it when you are slandered?

When have you slandered someone else? Why?

Bring your thoughts and offer them to God who will lovingly care for you and fill your souls.

Rev Deb

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lyme Disease

I spent the day at the International Lyme Disease Conference in San Francisco. It was primarily for physicians who presented results of their research and those who are engaged in ongoing research for the disease. I wanted to go so I could put a face to some of the names that have become common in my household since my so Cory was diagnosed with Lyme. I wanted to go to have some hope about treatment for my son. I wanted to go to connect with others who are dealing with the devastating disease.

There's a new movie that made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival called Under Our Skin. It's the story of lyme, its effects on people and the controversy within the medical and pharmaceutical community. Amazing film.

But for me, it is a journey of being with a child who is very much in the middle of a long process of healing. It's easier to be a support for illness that is more acute, but chronic illness calls for the ability to walk the walk of  long-suffering and complexity. Cure Unknown is the title of a new book that just came out about lyme. There are many ways to treat, and anti-biotics need to be changed periodically. Treating lyme  is an art form that demands physicians to be creative and passionate about their patients. Many doctors have lost licenses over treating these very needy patients.

As a mother I can only take in a little at a time. Not all lyme patients survive the disease, although I fully believe that Cory will. It's hard to see my son who got a full sports scholarship to USF be relegated to a life of survival. He sleeps 16 hours a day and is in a fog much of the time he's awake. He is not currently suicidal, although did buy two guns last year, just in case. The guns are now gone and the police are on notice in case he tries to purchase another.

Well, that's about all I can write now. I am in for the long haul and it does my soul no good to delve into a darkness that I sometimes get lost in.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Football - at 10?

Number 43 -That's my ten year old disguising himself as a football player. When he told me he wanted to play football last year, I tried to look very wise as I replied, 'If you really want to play football, there is one thing you need to do first. It has helped all major league football players (I just read some of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's stuff on truth and figured I could tap into a deeper truth of motherhood and lie)..... you need to take ballet for a year first.' He was not convinced and is now Number 43.

Last week he came home very excited about being switched to play as a receiver for the offense. So, not wanting my little guy to get tackled,  I said in my 'Deborah Under the Palm Tree voice', 'when the ball comes to you, you need to run in the opposite direction to make room for the other person to catch the ball.'    I don't think the Palm Tree Voice works on him.

Monday, August 11, 2008


"You are anointed with this oil and sealed as Christ's own forever,"
 I said as I made the sign of the cross on her forehead with the oil for baptism...

she asked, "will you put some on my toes too?"

Saturday, July 26, 2008


I decided to start blogging a bit again. There are going to be big changes ahead at Grace Church and in my life. Rob, my husband and music director, resigned and took a gig at a larger church and will oversee 50 musicians and have several choirs with cantors. He will be able to use his many talents that my smaller church was not able to utilize.
I am going to add a service so there will be one early no music Rite I, one traditional and one praise service. I'm still working on the times of services.  There is a lot to do and I leave on Thursday for my turn at the diocesan chapel followed by two weeks vacation.The piece we can't quite figure out is our young twins - we both leave too early to take them to church. We may get a babysitter and leave them home sometimes and do church at home with them for the time being.

On the family front, I'm very concerned about my oldest son who is battling Lyme disease. He is on a variety of medicines; antibiotics, antimicrobials, antipsychotic, and many more. He called last night to talk about his final resting place - and as a mother it tears at my heart to have that conversation with my son who very well may die as a result of this disease. 

I'm feeling a bit worn out these days and can't wait to get up to the mountains.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

thoughts about maundy thursday

Sermon Maundy Thursday

March 20, 2008

Grace Episcopal Church

The Rev. Debra Warwick-Sabino

Tonight’s service begins the ancient and holy tradition called the Triduum. The services are seen as a continuation -  beginning tonight and ending late Saturday night at the Easter Vigil Service. The word Triduum “Three Days” . Tonight's service is Maundy Thursday - it’s the night we reflect on Christ’s new commandment to love one another. The name “Maundy” is derived from the Latin “mandatum” or commandment. This is Jesus last night with his disciples and as they sit at that table we now call the Last Supper, Jesus tells them  “I give you a new commandment, just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” This is also the night we celebrate the beginning of the sacrament of the Eucharist as we remember Jesus’ Last supper with his disciples.

All of the readings tonight are about meals, which got me thinking about how we gather to share meals ...  

Family meals, where all are seated around the same table, seem to be a rare event in so many families due to the work and after-school activities. So many families consider themselves lucky to have weekend meals together and, at that, maybe only one. During the week fast food restaurants are often the places for a quick supper with the kids. 

Think about what you bring with you when you come to the table-  all those experiences you’ve had during the day-  workday satisfactions and frustrations; school and playground achievements and failures; love and tensions between spouses and siblings; fatigue and high energies. Add to that being in a hurry so we can  clean up, do homework, sports, play rehearsal, or housework and then to bed for not-enough sleep.  

I  remember another time that seems too long time ago - when as a child I’d  spend summers at at my grandparents house.   We ate together every night and it was at those meals that I heard the stories of the family, past and present. The pet bear my grandfather had and would take on a walk on a leash around the neighborhood in a Detroit suburb, the plane that he saved for and built and that my Uncle Stan crashed it  ( I even learned some new words I brought home to share that summer!) - they never spoke again. At that table we became family, for we heard the same stories and ate the same food passed down from the "old country" - ok, England.

Even in a fast-food world, there are still have occasions for special meals. Easter, just a couple days away, may be such an occasion;  birthdays, anniversaries

At some of these meals there are connections with today's scriptural meals. These special meals become occasions to set a table, light candles, have favorite foods and reconnect  with others by the sharing of stories, past and present. Again the next generation hears the family stories, eats the family’s unique foods and so becomes more embedded and aware—"this is my family".

These celebrational meals help us appreciate today’s scriptural ones. The Exodus reading tells of the Passover meal. In some ways the first Passover meal had a lot in common with modern meals. It was an eat-and-run meal. Those eating are dressed and packed for travel. They must have brought different and deep emotions to the meal. They were worn out by their Egyptian slavery, yet they couldn’t acquire their own freedom by themselves. They must have been apprehensive; would God really be able to get them out? And once away from their slave masters, would they survive the long trek across the dessert? Suppose they perished in the desert or were caught by their pursuers? If they were caught, what punishment would they receive? Some at the meal would have had second thoughts about this venture and may have argued to stay put and live with "the devil we know." There would have also been those who were filled with excitement —God was coming to help them--- finally freedom! But this was not a once-only meal; the Jews are instructed to celebrate again;

The scripture ends with: This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.

Future generation s would eat this meal of lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The family story would be repeated. They would tell of past deliverance; but speak in the present tense, "Why is this night different from all others?" is one of the four questions that is asked by the youngest member of the family when Jews gather to recall the Passover meal -- I remember it well since my best friend was Jewish and we shared all our celebrations with each other.  I was younger and since I was family I had to learn the four questions in Hebrew - and although it has been many, many years since I have asked those questions as the youngest member of a family I still know them - 

Ma nishtanah halailah hazeh mikol haleilot?


What new slaveries, addictions, fears and dreams of liberation would succeeding generations bring to this table? If God could free their ancestors, trapped in a far-off slavery, then God could do it again and lead a new generation, step by step to freedom.

Paul reminds us of the new table story and meal being handed on to us. The story and meal are both past and present. We remember the life and death of the One who also provides this meal for us. What do we bring to this meal tonight?What modern slaveries tie us up or keep us imprisoned?  What is our personal "Egypt," our place of captivity?  We remember and are given courage; what God once did for us, God is doing again: helping us pass over from death to life; from despair to hope; from the darkness of our own making, to the new light that only God can provide.

When we gather for our "family" meal and tell the story of our new Passover in Jesus, John reminds us to make sure we tell the full story. In his account of the meal, with its Passover overtones, we hear who we are---- the story that links us to Jesus, it includes the washing of his disciples’ feet. The washing is a centerpiece of John’s narrative. There are Christian communities that use the towel, basin and pitcher of water as their symbols. Some churches have mosaics or paintings of these three items alone. No need to paint Jesus or his disciples into the scene, the symbols speak for themselves. 

At formal meals the lowest slave would have been given the job of washing feet. Instead, Jesus takes the role of slave and washes his disciples’ feet. Just when the disciples were getting comfortable at a special meal, Jesus does something that really throws them off balance! Any strivings or ambitions to move up the discipleship ladder they might have had have just been turned on their ear. The "successful disciple," Jesus tells them, is one ready to take up pitcher, basin and towel to wash and dry feet. A person could lose one’s dignity washing feet! Exactly and they might gain another form of dignity, they might become knows as companions of Jesus.

In a moment you will all be invited here to have your feet washed by- when it is time please come forward in two lines, take off just one sock and shoe, and sit down in one of the chairs while we do the foot-washing.  Let the story of the meal, the story of serving others, and the sharing of Christ’s body be part of your story. This is our family history.

Resources: Jude Siciliano, OP, Preacher’s Exchange web site

I read a poem called A Place Setting at the Lord’s Table by Gunilla Norris

As I lay the fork near the plate,
let me remember this is Your table, not mine.
As I set the water glasses down
and fold the napkins, let me be reminded
that every setting at this table
is Yours, not mine.

Each one who will partake of this meal
is a particular someone You love, a someone
You have made and whom You sustain.
In You nothing and no one is forgotten.
How vast and providential is the memory
with which You keep us all.

It is only we who forget You
and then one another.
It is we who starve each other
and exclude each other.
Give me new eyes.
When the glass is raised by my friend
let me see You drinking.
When the fork is lifted by my child,
let me recognize You eating.
You are the hidden joy which feeds
and keeps everything. You are the table,
the guest, the meal, and the commemoration.

Make in my person a place setting for You.
Remind me of my true nature
which is recalled only in You.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Five

RevGal Friday ay Five reflections:

1. If you could travel to any historical time period, which would it be, and why?

I would like to be there when Warwick Castle was in full swing. My grandfather, Frederick Warwick, used to tell me were we related to royalty and he'd tell me about Warwick Castle. Three years ago there was a job opening for a young maiden to lead the jousting knights in at Warwick Castle. Of course I applied, but didn't even get a response. I wonder  1952 date of birth had anything to do with it?  

2. What futuristic/science fiction development would you most like to see?
Beam me up, Scotty.

3. Which do you enjoy more: remembering the past, or dreaming for the future?
I like to think about the possibilities the future holds.

4. What do you find most memorable about this year's Lent?
We just got news that my brother-in-law, 57 y.o., has only weeks - months to live. I feel like I got the wind knocked out of me as I adjust to the news.  He is trying to quickly put his affairs in order, and a  family friend
just offered him a burial plot close to where my father-in-law was buried last year. The readings for Holy Week have a visceral reality to them this year. I am walking in a fog of grief.

5. How will you spend your time during this upcoming Holy Week? What part do you look forward to most?
I will take one day of retreat. I have a vestry meeting on Monday night, Maundy Thursday service on Thursday at 7 pm, Good Friday service at noon and  the Easter Vigil at 8 pm. I look forward the most to lighting the fire in the courtyard from the light of Christ and processing into the (hopefully) dark church with the new light of the season.  

Sunday, March 9, 2008

keeping eyes of the heart open

It was just another day in a long series of rainy days. The clouds hung heavy in the sky. It had been raining for the season, which it does here in northern California. When I went to do an errand I decided not to grab my camera, which I always bring with me .. just in case. The sky was dark and nothing was going to happen to warrant any photo taking. Maria and I got in the car and drove through Davis on our way to Sacramento. And there it was - the most incredible, breath taking rainbow I have ever seen. The colors were brilliant - and several cars pulled off the side of the road just to look at it. There were two rainbows, but the birds - there were baby egrets, white as snow, doves, sparrows and crows or something - there were birds flying in and out of the rainbows as if they were dancing in it. The colors of the rainbow reflected off the wings of the white egrets - and it was the most amazing site I think I've ever seen. It ranks right u there with seeing the northern lights on a warm summer night in the upper peninsula of Michigan - sitting on top of a corn silo at 3 am. 

As I drove through Davis I happened to pull behind one of the cars at a red light that had also  pulled over to watch the rainbow. So, in a very uncharacteristic move, I rolled down my window and asked if they had happened to take a picture. They did, so I quickly  wrote down my e-mail address and got out of the car (the light had since turned green and I was stopping traffic) and gave them my e-mail. My daughter was thoroughly embarrassed - and hid in the back seat.

Here is the photo, it doesn't do the rainbow justice - but I learned my lesson - always be open to the possibility of wonder on even the most dreary day in the midst of a dreary and uneventful season.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

tithing your soul

I'm back after a long hiatus - too busy, family activities, workshops and a smidgeon of depression thrown in. 

This morning I was reading a daily meditation by Frederick Buechner called Listening to Your Life. He wrote a definition of Lent that I had not heard before.

 In many cultures there is an ancient custom of giving a tenth of each year's income to some holy use. For Christians, to observe the forty days of Lent is to do the same thing with roughly a tenth of each year's days. After being baptized by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves.

To hear yourself answer (such a question) is to begin to hear something not only of who you are but of both what you are becoming and what you are failing to become. It can be a pretty depressing business all in all, but if sackcloth and ashes are at the start of it, something like Easter may be at the end of it.

If you had to bet everything you have on whether there is a God or whether there isn't, which side would get your money and why?

When you look at your face in the mirror, what do you see in it that you most like and what do you see in it that you most deplore?

If you had only one last message to leave to the handful of people who are most important to you, what would it be in twenty-five words or less?

Of all the things you have done in your life, which is the one you would most like to undo? Which is the one that makes you happiest to remember?

Is there any person in the world or any cause that, if circumstances called for it, you would be willing to die for?

If this were the last day of your life, what would you do with it?

To hear yourself try to answer questions like these is to begin to hear something not only of who you are, but of both what you are becoming and what you are failing to become. It can be a pretty depressing business all in all, but if sackcloth and ashes are at the start of it, something like Easter may be at the end.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

baptism of Christ - sermon notes -


Today we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus –and at 10, the baptism of my granddaughter, Sage.


When I was doing some research on the history of infant baptism I came across articles called Infant Baptism, Its History and its Harm, Infant Baptism- Exposed!, and Infant Baptism is under Fire!


Like anything else, it can be a source of conflict and division – or a source of dialogue and acceptance.


The book of Acts talks about whole households being baptized – and it has been the norm of the church from the very beginning.


St. Irenaeus referred to baptism in his writings in the 2nd century, St. Augustine began the gloomy theology of baptism that said that baptism cleanses an individual of the stain of original sin, and that the unbaptized were doomed to hell. Later, Thomas Aquinas suggested that the unbaptized wouldn’t go  to hell but to limbo, which was part of Roman Catholic theology – but several years ago the RC said limbo no longer existed--- I remember the story about the International Theological Commission, a group of theologians at the Vatican who  worked on "the fate of babies who have died without baptism." They focused on of God's universal saving plan.


Sounds a bit like counting angels on the head of a  pin if you ask me.


Others argue that baptism that by baptizing infants the church shows that we believe all are acceptable before God – even when as vulnerable and defenseless as a baby.



Baptism is one of the sacraments of the church and we believe that is one of those outward signs of an invisible and spiritual grace.

It is not saying the person is an Episcopalian – the person chooses that religious affiliation later in life, but simply a member of the household of God- where we all promise to walk alongside the newly baptized on their journey.


The Baptismal covenant that we say describes the very core of our beliefs as Christians – also described in the earlier reading from the prophet Isaiah. It describes not just a standard of conduct, but who we are, and that sometimes get lost amidst the daily grind of life..


Listen again to Isaiah and also to some of the baptismal covenant -


a bruised reed he will not break,
  and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;


In the baptismal covenant we said yes to the question,


Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?


If you seek and serve Christ in all persons – even yourself – that means that you treat them with a gentleness being mindful of the image of a bruised reed – because whether we are aware of it or not, every single person has battles and conflicts and bruises – we need to be careful – we need to walk gently.


Isaiah says that he will faithfully bring forth justice and  will not grow faint or be crushed
 until he has established justice in the earth;


And we agreed that we would take our place in that and

strive for justice and peace among all people, and do it in a manner that respects the dignity of every human being?


and then  the Lord speaks through Isaiah – about Jesus, but also to each one of us - individually –


I, am the LORD, I have called you

I have taken you by the hand and kept you;

I have given you as a covenant to the people,

a light to the nations,

to open the eyes that are blind,

to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,

from the prison those who sit in darkness.


You are the covenant.


When I was at St. Martin’s I wanted to really have the youth get into this story and feel as much as they could what it meant to go to the river to be baptized.


I was working with a group of youth and parents and we were repairing for a Jordan River pilgrimage for months- but it was really along the banks of he American River.  I can’t remember why but I had them make a huge, huge

cardboard sculpture. They each had a huge box to paint a part of the cross and when we put it together it was supposed to make one cross made up from many different perspectives-  Each box was 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide and when we put it all together it was much bigger than I imagined it was going to be. And for some reason I wanted to bring this huge cross with us on our pilgrimage, so one day we packed up these boxes on the roofs of three different cars – (and it was so tall that they almost didn’t fit under a bridge we had to go under).


We parked near the riverbank – and took our bibles with us and were walking down the street reading the story of the baptism of Jesus aloud. I can tell you people who saw us and asked what we were doing did not guess that we were Episcopalians!


So we made it down a sandy path, through some brush, and were getting near the riverbank. And we all knew it wasn’t really the Jordan River, but there was a kind of excitement in the air as we got closer, … a sense of expectation …


And we were at the part that said,  “suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. " And a voice from heaven said,

And I paused; because I was being dramatic and just at that moment a man from down the river shouted “Be careful, there are rattlesnakes right by you”


It changed the whole atmosphere –one girl who had a snake phobia  (we don’t ask on our youth field trip forms what kinds of phobias do people have) burst into tears and fled – she just ran and an and ran - 


Luckily, my mother lived close to where she and we were- has a pool, She looked a bit surprised (really annoyed) with me when I showed up with a bunch of people she didn’t know (she’s very, very shy) and asked if we could pretend her pool was the Jordan River.  What really got her was when we unloaded our cross from the car tops!

All of today’s readings are for you personally, so take them home and read them again and know that God is there ready to open the heavens and say to you – You, Linda and Pat and Jim. You, Kenny and Carolyn and Gregg and …


You – and you and you are God’s Beloved and with you he is well pleased.



Before we proceed with the baptism I want to say something about Sage’s name. Sage Linda-Ann Russell. In my family, my grandmother and mother and sister and me – when we are pregnant we all have our babies early, always. No exception – so when my daughter Rebecca was pregnant, I assured her that she wouldn’t make it to her due date. We always deliver early.  Well, the due date approached, came and went – and three days later she finally had Sage. I turns out that sage was born 7 years to the day – after her grandmother Linda had died. And so the name Linda comes from her grandmother who is  very much with us today.


Resources: Time magazine May 1968, CNN Dec, 2005    

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

head above water -literally with all the storms out here

sick kids, sick mother, sick parishoners....

haven't had time to write, post anything.. back soon

but i'll at least post a pre-sick photo of a snow trip..