Sunday, January 31, 2010

Quote of the Day: Emil Brunner

...the scandal of Christianity exists as a scandal only so long as we are full of ourselves. To believe in the cross of Christ no scandal for those who have seen how perverted is their own wisdom, the wisdom of natural man. It is the very corrective for this perversion of our sight, it makes us look straight again, who by sin have become cross-eyed. The foolishness of the gospel is divine wisdom to all those who have been healed of the perversion which consists in making man’s reason and goodness the judge of all truth, that perversion which places man instead of God in the centre of the universe. The gospel is identical with the healing of this perversion, which in its depth and real significance is diabolical. It is the victory of God’s light over the powers of darkness.

Emil Brunner, The Scandal of Christianity,

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Belly Be Gone! Update 2

The bizarre thing about the green drink is that I’m losing weight but my pants are fitting more snugly and my belly is protruding even more. Which, of course, is not fair. Sorta misses the point of scarfing down my veggies first thing in the morning, followed by a couple eggs.

I chopped up all my fresh veggies, coupled with an almond, raw pumpkin seeds and sunflower kernels, and dried cranberry mixture to munch on during the day. Tasty. Yet unsatisfying. But at least it gives me gas.

I’ve been told that it takes somewhere around 21 days to form a new habit. I don’t know if that’s true or not but creating new habits takes discipline, which takes a kind of energy that I don't know if I have.

Exercise is hit and miss. This is the hardest area for me. Mainly because I’d rather have my nose in the newspaper than sweating on the elliptical machine. I’d rather zone out with a massive theological tome than work my biceps.

But, of course, I need both: good nutrition AND proper exercise.

Today will be better. I promise.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Belly Be Gone: Update 1

My weight-loss scheme is being met with modest success, both financially and in tons per square inch. I’ve been choking down this green concoction made from two handfuls of fresh spinach leaves, a leaf or two of kale, a tomato, a banana, a mittenful of frozen berries, and a few cups of water. I blast it in the blender and slurp it down. Surprisingly tasty. Can’t detect the kale at all.

Drinking my salad just part of the plan. I'm also trying to get more exercise in each day. Well, at this stage, I’m trying to spring my motivation from the witness protection program. I HATE exercising. But I know it’s good for me. So I’ll do it. Kind of like drinking kale.

Made other slight adjustments. Using smaller plates. Drinking more water. Less of that sugary, toxic junk in my coffee. Small but noticeable changes.

I’ve already lost 3 pounds. And that’s with barely trying. Looking forward to the new me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sermon: Epiphany 2C

Sermon: Epiphany 2C from Good Shepherd on Vimeo.


Those who know me know that I don’t do math. At least not well. I used to be ashamed of my inability to do algebra. It didn’t help matters that I once had a math teacher who seemed to think that my disabling lack of talent in doing long division in my head was some sort of character flaw.

Nor am I good with my hands. I don’t even own tools. If I have a leaky facet I’d rather pay someone a couple dollars to do the job right than have me fuddle about, get water all over the floor, hurl the f-word at the pipes, making things worse, before calling the plumber anyway.

Sometimes I’m worried that I’m marooned on my brain’s right hemisphere. Left-brained thinking - the logical, rational side - leaves me stumped. Which makes me glad that to have Fern crunching the numbers and the Trustees hammering in nails. You don’t want me in the same city block as a spreadsheet or skill saw.

I used to feel guilty about my inability to handle fractions or change the oil in my car. I don’t anymore. I don’t care what people think. I’m just not good with numbers or tools. Those aren’t my gifts. I’m good at other things.

Through the process of learning what I am good at and not-so good at, I’ve discovered that...(whole thing here)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Belly Be Gone!

I have a modest proposal for you, dear reader. As you probably noticed, I’ve put on a couple pounds over the past few years. (No, really, I have! Seriously! I’m not carrying a bowling ball under my shirt!)

So, I’ve decided to do something about it. I’ve tried a negative incentive (last year I said that I’d donate $201 to the federal Conservative party if I didn’t reach my goal of getting into my size 34 jeans by Easter. I squeezed into said pants, only to gain the weight back - within a month).

So, I’m going to try a positive incentive this time. This is where you come in.

I’m asking you to sponsor me in my weight loss quest. Say, a dollar per pound (or $10 or $100, or....) and I will weigh myself on June 21 (first day of summer). If I’ve lost say, 30 pounds, you donate $30 to Canadian Lutheran World Relief via a special fund I’ll set up at Good Shepherd (to get a tax receipt).

To add further incentive. I’m going to challenge my brother to do the same; i.e., get people to sponsor his weight loss goal and raise money for a charity/nonprofit of his choice (Porn Star retirement fund?). Whoever raises the most money wins.

I’m going to weigh myself on Monday January 18 (later tonight) and again on June 21 (and, of course, regular weigh-ins throughout the coming months). And what ever the number of pounds lost, the sponsor (you) will donate to CLWR.

What say you? Will you help me meet my weight loss goal and raise funds for CLWR at the same time? Not to mention allowing me to have bragging rights over my brother....which, in itself, is priceless.

Let me know.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Price of Being Human

I don’t know if I’m concerned or delighted that some folks in the church are complaining about the change to disposable communion glasses from washable glass cups. We made the decision to go to plastic because of H1N1 concerns; some of our seniors were worried that the bleach used to clean the glass cups couldn't strong arm that nasty virus. They didn’t want to end up on a cold, hard slab, because of someone’s infected slobber.

Basic ethical dilemma: Ease peoples’ H1N1 fears vs saving the planet. What’s an aspiring green church to do?

We made our decision to comfort the fearful vs stewarding God's creation.

But now we have a backlash. Not a big one. But noticeable.

“I’m not sure that filling landfills with plastic is what Jesus had in mind when he gave us the gift of communion.”

“We’re spending HOW MUCH on plastic cups when we have perfectly good, washable glass ones?”

“Since when doesn’t bleach kill germs?”

“Do we REALLY want to encourage peoples’ irrational fears?”

The list goes on...and on...and on...

At least we haven’t stopped shaking hands for the sharing of the peace, like some churches. Some churches have replaced handshaking with bowing. Others wave.

What’s next? A fist bump?

What I worry about with the health concerns in the church is that we’re moving away from our understanding of incarnation - the Word made Flesh that is within and around us.

Human contact is what it means to be alive, in relationship. In communion. It’s why Jesus came in the first place; so that God could feel what it’s like to be human. To touch another being. To feel the longing of another’s caress. To feel the joy of when the touch comes at last. And to return that joyful touch.

Yes, we need to take health precautions. That’s why we can’t walk five feet in our church without running into a hand sanitizer.

But we also need to remember who we are, and what our story is. Human connection is risky. We can get hurt. We can lose parts of our selves. We can get sick.

But isn’t that the price of love? And from what I remember, Jesus was willing to pay that price. And he asks us to follow in his steps. He’s just asking that we be human just as he was.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sermon: Baptism of Jesus

We met John the Baptist in Advent. And we encounter him again today. And he’s in no better a mood now than he was then.

The folks who put the lectionary together left out the juicy bits. They took their scissors to the parts where John’s venom is most poisonous. John had a few choice words for King Herod and his wife. John didn’t like the fact that Herod married his brother’s wife. In fact, it was against Jewish law. And if Herod didn’t like John’s well-aimed preaching he should have taken it up God, not John. John was just doing his job.

It might have been that joltingly honest preaching that drew Jesus to John that morning at the Jordan River. John was refreshing. Unique. Different from other preachers who either told people what they wanted to hear, or lined their pockets with the pennies of little old ladies. John wasn’t warm and fuzzy. But you knew that he’d give you the straight goods when it came to the things of God.

That day, in the river of freedom, where thousands of years prior, God’s people crossed from slavery into the land that God promised them, was where Jesus joined himself to that saving story, where his mandate as God’s Son was given to him. Where the affirmation of the Almighty wrapped around him like sun-soaked blanket.

“You are my Son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased...” Who wouldn’t want to hear that from God? Or from any parent for that matter.

But lying underneath this affirmation of divine was a summons. A calling that might have made Jesus’ blood turn to...(whole thing here)