The Bread of Life and Death
2009-08-06 by Rina Terry

Yesterday morning, I visited an elderly couple.  He has been active in the church his entire life and recently became homebound.  When I asked Bill how he was doing (he sat in a wheelchair with his oxygen tank nearby), he said, "Great!  I'm doing better than expected." 

We had a lovely visit.  He shared his grief about giving up driving--he had been a driver even in his military career.  He spoke of what he loved about the church and how he missed it.  He was fully aware that a few folks in the congregation were already criticizing the "new" pastor.  He said he regretted that.  He went on to talk with me about our mutual understanding that, at the end of each day, one's prayer should be that one had done what was pleasing in the eyes of God.  He reminded me that it is impossible to please everyone in a congregation. 

We played with the cat, Mimosa, and she even tried to join us for Communion but refrained as I prayed with my eyes open and kept her at a distance with my arm against her purring side.  It was an exceptionally gratifying visit and filled me with peace.  The way he looked at his wife of 62 years, as I was leaving, made me get a lump in my throat.  They took each other's hand and then I moved toward the door.

Quite early this morning, the parsonage phone rang and his wife said, "Pastor, Bill has left us.  I am so thankful you were here yesterday.  He was in great spirits and even enjoyed his dinner last night which he had not done for a long while.  It was quick and he wasn't in any pain that I could tell.  Thank you so much for being here yesterday."

The Bread of Life nurtured Bill yesterday in life and in death--and he had some left over to offer me.  I am humbled. 





Bread and Poetry
2009-08-06 by David von Schlichten

Rina Terry has been generous with her posts as our guest blogger this week. Please scroll down to take in what she has written for us and for God. She's been working hard down in Cape May.

I find delightful and wise her story about her grandmother's reverence for bread. I also cherish Rina's use of literature in her posts.

I've been taking classes for a PhD in English, so I haven't even started my sermon yet. With great need I will be drawing from the Holy Spirit via Rina.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator  





Mid-Week Stretch or Idling the engines
2009-08-05 by Rina Terry

As with the seventh inning stretch in a baseball game (I'm a S. Jersey girl so a lifetime Phillies fan), by mid-week I need a little break from the text.

Right now I'm just reading and watching.  Last night I watched, for the xxx time, Antwone Fisher

Jerome Davenport: "Regard without ill-will despite an offense." That's Webster's definition of forgiveness.
Antwone Fisher: Why do I have to forgive?
Jerome Davenport: So you can get on with your life.

I'm reading a few things:  rereading Stookey's book, Eucharist: Christ's Feast with the Church.  Also reading interpreter of maladies  a book of short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri.  And, Robert Browning's Jocoseria.

...a few lines from Browning's poem "Jochanan Hakkadosh"

"Of knowledge?  Eden's tree must hold unplucked                  Some apple, sure, has never tried thy tooth,                        Juicy with sapience thou hast sought, not sucked? 

This is idling time...

 





Complaints-Temptations-Needs-Grace
2009-08-05 by Rina Terry

There's an interesting intersection where complaints-needs-temptation-grace all
collide.  How does the gospel lesson illuminate that intersection?
  submitted by Jack V.

 I'd love to give an answer as good as Jack's question but I think my reality is that I am tempted to manipulate the gospel to salve spots that have been rubbed raw by just the type of complaintants he mentioned.  When I'm able to clear my head, I realize that they do not want to be satisfied.  Their mission is to complain, stir things up, and draw attention to themselves in the way that's most effective for them. 

And, then, there are folks who have way too much time on their hands; believe they could do the job better than the pastor (Monday Morning Quarterbacks, yes--well, Monday Morning Pastors).  For the most part, I think they are to be pitied not appeased and invited to come up with solutions to their problems. 

 I had a boss once who told me never to bring him a problem to which I did not have at least three solutions.  Smart guy. 

So, I answer all complaints with questions which addresses someone's need for attention:

Maude, where do you see God working in this?

Harold, how do you believe Jesus is present with us in this?

Hortense, what has your prayerfulness revealed to you about this?

Perhaps that doesn't overtly offer grace but it's far more gracious than giving in to my temptation to say what's really roiling around on this flaming weapon called my tongue.





Do Not Complain Among Yourselves
2009-08-03 by Rina Terry

You tell 'em, Jesus!  And, while you're at it, come to my worship service on Sunday and tell my congregation!

As I read G. Lee Ramsey, Jr's Pastoral Implications, I remembered sermons I've heard in which the preacher took on the persona of Jesus and chastised the listeners as though (s)he were Jesus addressing the crowd.

While it's quite tempting, it's dangerous.  Who amongst us would not like to say, on occasion, "Just be quiet; stop complaining and let me do my job!  Don't you see that I'm the one Jesus called here."  When congregations question our authenticity as pastors, as preachers, it is difficult to suppress the urge to speak as though Jesus' words were naturally our words. 

Admittedly, reading this discourse, I felt the urge to go off on a little mind tangent toward the chronic complainers in my congregation.  Ramsey helped me focus on the text and not my own issue.  I was pointed to Jesus' action-- pointing beyond himself--and my focus shifted.  I am not meant to focus on myself but on the one who called me.

Now that I've cleared that hurdle, I can move myself out of the way and better engage the text. 





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