Watching the Bird Bath
2010-08-10 by Rina Terry

Watching the Bird Bath 

From my kitchen window, I can see the small cement birdbath in my side yard.  There is nothing fancy about it.  I am not a great gardener and the parsonage yard is in desperate need of a landscaper’s professional skill.

 

Yet, it just takes a small pool of water and an inexpensive bird feeder to attract many birds.  I have noticed the relationship between the larger and smaller birds.  The large birds:  grackles, ravens, jays and crows , due to size, use on demand.  On occasion though, I notice a smaller bird fluttering to the edge of the bath anyway and when the larger birds make their hostile gestures, the small birds flutter to the trees and wait their turn.  They are patient and they always come back.

 

The dominant birds ultimately tire themselves out and go off and preen on a limb while they dry.   Later, I go back to the window and the finches, Eastern Meadowlarks, cardinals, Fox Sparrows and occasional Red-winged blackbirds take their turns. 

 

Finally, the deep, thick hush of evening comes and there is a stillness and silence that resists any evidence of wing-flapping and splashing that went before.  The heat of the day gives way to ocean breeze and starry sky and the bird bath, the feeders, are no longer visible.

 

All of this I can see, identify, interpret—yet what do I know of this present time?

I enter my own sanctuary, my private space—

 

we breathe by faith and trust there will be a sunrise. 

 Singing In An Empty Sanctuary

No candles to light, no offering
taken. Hymnals and Bibles poised
in their racks. The dust murmuring on the altar never makes
a distinct sound. Then an eruption—

something praise-like, a song meant
as both please and thank you,
hard questions repeating themselves
inside the whole notes. Fear sings
its own lyrics no matter the melody.

 



Original Work
2010-08-09 by Rina Terry

Abandon If horrow is the reality that sustains

our existence, then let the rain come in

torrents until the ship sinks close enough

to shore, even a fool’s fool might wade

to solid ground.  All roads are flooded

and one must climb the swaying trees

to make one’s way.  Bending limb to limb

the thought of building a raft comes

dripping into mind.   Someone is winding

the clock—either grandmother or grandfather,

 

and someone else shrieks from a mountain

top then crawls or limps into a valley ablaze

with wild purple, yellow, red, cornflower

blue.  We all are where we are.  Wondering

how this could have happened without

noticing the fine lines and loss of longing.

  

Rina Terry

August 9, 2010

  Italic quote from Lord Byron…

 

Italic quote from Lord Byron…

As I lived with the texts today, this piece began to form.This is first draft original workd and not to be used,by readers  rather considered.and engaged.  May it provike a creative impulse in you... 

 





I Want To Sing You A Tough-Love Song...
2010-08-09 by Rina Terry

Many years ago, Anne Murray recorded I Want To Sing You A Love Song, written by Kenny Loggins and D.L. George.  As I read the first few words of the Isaiah text for this week, I wondered how many other Baby Boomer pastors began singing that tune.  Well, none of us sang it for very long as we engaged the prophet's indictment.  It is our task, as pastors, to share God's love with our parishioners and to magnify the image of God as love so they might be filled with the power of that holy love for the world.  This week, it calls for tough love, indeed.  The Lucan text simply reinforces that tough love approach. Yet, to be honest, many times it is buildings and traditions and rituals which infatuate us far more than God's purposeful call born of divine love.  Do we dare, in a day when shrinking mainline churches have made church-growth training the rallying cry of denominational leaders, to proclaim a prophetic word?  Are we willing to deal with the consequences of prophetic preaching in middle-class social club congregations?  As with me, you may be inspired by persons whose prophetic voices do speak up and out.  Yet, they largely are not parish pastors and not in positions that can be damaged by angry or hostile congregational committees or tunnel-visioned M&M (money and members) leaders. At a time when the unemployment rate is nearly 10%, why would a congregation that is having difficulty meeting its annual budget engage in a major stained glass restoration project rather than shine the light of God’s love on those in need?  In a political climate that has unmasked, and unsheeted, the latent racism in our country, how can congregations called Christian refuse to welcome the stranger?  When our planet is heaving, and hemorrhaging, and fracturing, why are churches such poor stewards when it comes to the greening of our buildings and habits? As we meditate, pray and exegete this week, may we hear God’s cry for justice and dare claiming the prophet’s voice. 

 





Where your treasure is...
2010-08-05 by Adam Grosch

The order of clause in verse 34 is very important.  The common phrase I have heard is "where your heart is, there your treasure will be."  I don't know if that line comes from this verse - but if it does, it totally misrepresents the meaning behind this passage.  The line is "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." 

 The first version suggests that whatever our heart longs for and whatever we are focused on - THAT is our treasure.  In the second  version - the treasure is constant, it never changes.  Our heart follows us to our treasure - and we are told that are true treasure is our "unfailing treasure in heaven." 

Well, what if our heart isn't there?  That is why we are told to do all of the things that are previous to this line - we are not meant to worry and consume ourselves with the things of this world - we are even to sell our possessions, and give alms, making a purse for ourselves that does not wear out.

In this way, even if our heart is not yet with the kingdom, we should still be investing our lives knowing that this is our true treasure.  When we invest our lives into the kingdom then our heart will be there...eventually.  What a pastoral word for the many new comers in our congregation who are not yet sure what their hearts believe about God, let alone Jesus Christ.  Invest in the kingdom, invest where our treasure is and you will soon find your heart there as well.   

 Adam





Theology of Failure
2010-08-04 by Adam Grosch

I was reading an article on here that talked about the need for us to have a "theology of failure."

It recalled a quote that I have remembered but not sure who said it or where I first heard it.  It goes something like this: "It is better to fail at something that will ultimately succeed than to succeed at something that will ultimately fail."  (A quick google search gives a version of the quote to Peter Marshall - a Scottish pastor from early 20th century and/or Woodrow Wilson).

We don't do very well at failure in our society.  We are so results driven.  I am thinking about some of our NBA players.  LeBron James recently had tons of publicity switching to Miami Heat - abandoning Cleveland for the simple reason "I want to win."  It seems like this reasoning is completely acceptable to us.  NBA star Chris Paul talks similarly.  He plays for the Hornets which didn't even make it to the playoffs .  He was recently quoted,  "I would love to be here. I want to win many, many championships here, I just want to make sure we're committed to winning. ... I love everything about the city, but at the end of the day, I want to win and I don't want to win years from now. I want to win now.''  For now his commitment to them may be more related to the fact that he is stuck under contract with them for at least two more seasons.

 For these players it isn't even about the money so much as it is about winning - about success.  I am sure this is true probably for most players even if they don't voice it so blatantly as the ones above have.  I hear Shaq may be headed to the Celtics - certianly a winning team - but he also may be an example to lift up in a discussion on the theology of failure.  I noticed for the first time last night a TV series titled "Shaq vs."  Shaq who is talked about as one of the best athletes in the world is placed in a competition against the experts in other sports.  The two examples last night included him going up against the national spelling bee winner in a spelling contest and against Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a nascar race.  In both cases the "experts" were given handicaps to give Shaq a fighting chance but nevertheless, it seemed like the cards were stacked against him.  He never stood a chance in either of the competitions.  Shaq, who is a competitor at heart, was such a gracious player and loser.  The fact that he is willing to compete against such ridiculous odds and the way that he lost so graciously are certainly examples of how it doesn't always have to be about "winning."  Sometimes it is just about getting out there and playing the game. 

Is playing for the kindgom seen as a winning game or a losing game in our society today?  With the decline of the institutional church - there is certainly the anxiety in our pews that the church is losing.  How prophetic it may be to lift up losing as a kingdom value as well as the quote "It is better to fail at something that will ultimately succeed than to succeed at something that will ultimately fail."  v.40 promises that Jesus will indeed return.  In the end God will bring all things together under Christ - fully redeemed.  This may seem like a far away impossibility to some and choosing it in today's world may look like we are joining the losing side but we can be assured that the kingdom is indeed the only treasure worth investing in (even if it leads us to a life of failure in this lifetime). 

Adam





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