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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, September 22, 2006

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille

The other night I was having trouble getting to sleep.... nothing new, really. I turned on the television in the hope I would find something to lull me into a trance and lower my eyelids.

Sunset Boulevard was flickering in black and white from the TV screen. William Holden looked so very young and Gloria Swanson was incandescent as Norma Desmond, a once famous and all but forgotten silent movie star.

The consummate actress she prided herself in speaking with her eyes and facial expressions.... who needed to actually hear your words if you could ACT?

As the years passed, however, no matter how much time she spent on a regimen of facials, the wrinkles began to show.... the pink glow of youth was gone.... her advancing age began to show. And, sad to mention it, her voice was a bit low and more often than not grating on the nerves.

I am not fond of mirrors.... yet I use a magnifying mirror now and again to demolish my unibrow. Recently I noticed I have pores..... big ones! on my nose... on my chin.... on my forehead! And some of them are crowded out by rather unsightly 'old man hairs' that sprout overnight on my chin... some black, some white. Now, where did they come from?

Taking a very close look at your outer self can be a shocking experience. Another challenging experience is to take a close look at your inner self: your spiritual health and resiliency, your practice of prayer, your corporate worship regime, rule of life, dedication to community service, attentiveness to the needs of others.

What you see on close examination may be a wonderful surprise or a rude awakening..... but it will get easier if you make it part of a healthy maintenance routine. You'll get the hang of it with practice.

Unlike Mr. DeMille who, despite gels and camera tricks could still see that Norma's star was tarnished and fallen, God will always see our essential beauty through the lens of unconditional love.

Post Lent-e, Post Pente, Post Cruci, Post Lucy

Did anyone get the above sequence?

It's one of those rhymes that help us remember something else.... in this case, when in the church calendar we observe Ember Days.

The Wednesday and Friday following Ash Wednesday (Lent-e), Pentecost (Pente), Holy Cross Day (Cruci) and the feast of St. Lucy (Lucy...makes sense) there are days marked for special prayers and devotions for the increase in vocations to the ordained ministry.

It may be true that a vocation is in part an inner experience, but it is also true that a vocation must be something experienced by the worshiping community, so that one among us is called.

We can create a positive environment for the encouragement and support of the vocation of ordained ministry if we pray for it and value it.

Say a special prayer today, the next Ember Day, for the ordained ministers you know.... and an extra special one for those you don't (because they may not even know it yet). May God and the Spirit provide laborers for many, many harvests to come!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mark 9:32

Mark 9:32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Jesus had just finished telling his disciples (the ones we now call apostles) that he would be betrayed, killed and three days later 'rise again'.

We don't know whether they were 'afraid' because they felt less than brilliant, afraid to ask what he really meant by that..... or afraid that they had heard something so horrible that they would rather NOT bring up the subject, somehow hoping it would go away.

Asking for clarification or further information can bring some startling results. If you ask a question, you just might get an answer -- and the answer you get might not be the one you were hoping for.

Just perhaps.... they were afraid to ask because if Jesus' statement were verified, that truth would shake their world, shatter their hopes and alter forever their expectations. They wouldn't be jockeying for position by Jesus' side if they knew that he would be murdered and their fate as his disciples would be a death sentence for them as well.

These days some of us can only deal with unvarnished truth on a 'need to know' basis, little bits at a time, presented in a palatable way. In the short term, that is easier, less messy. As time passes on we lose a great deal if we are not presented with truth - as is. The feelings, the actions, the reactions, the adjustments, the growth are postponed. The truth will win out, sooner or later.

Let us ask the Spirit for the courage to ask the hard questions- and the courage to deal with the truthful answer in all our dealings. Amen and amen.

Monday, September 18, 2006

"You have the right to remain silent....."

Sound familiar? If you have never been 'read' your Miranda rights, you have heard them recited in a play or on any number of programs on the television - from reality police shows to dramas that feature police or lawyers (or both).

I am thinking of something else, however. It has to do with forgiveness and living the faith one professes.

This is something any number of you may have experienced. Here you are..... Attempting in every way to be a 'good Christian' (i.e. following, to the best of your ability, the example of Jesus Christ and his teachings and fulfilling, with the help of the Holy Spirit, your baptismal vows).... and you are faced with a dilemma.

Someone in the department in which you work is about to retire (or perhaps someone in your parish is about to move). You have been on the receiving end of some ill will (or slander of your character heard with your own ears). You have tried to settle things one-on-one quietly rather than make an public issue of things and the response has been silence - or worse, the exchange has been made public and taken on a 'spin' and life of its own.

There will be a party of some sort as a send off. There will be a collection for some type of gift.

What will you do? HHmmmmmmm. Decisions, decisions. Be generous? Ignore? Retaliate? Even doing nothing, saying nothing is a statement which may be "....held against you in a court of law ( or the court of public opinion)". On the face of it, very few remain innocent until proven guilty.

It is extremely difficult to be kind to someone who has been meanspirited to you. There are times when refraining from retaliation is about all you can muster in the forgiveness process. Yet - if I harbor resentment - I am the only one who is being harmed by my actions. My reputation as a 'good Christian' is tarnished and I am not living into the example of Christ.

There is nothing quite like perspective to help us out in trying times.

Read the Bible narratives and you will note that, upon being arrested, Jesus was never read his "rights", yet he never damned anyone. With his last breath he gasped for the forgiveness of his accusers and all who attributed to his own death.

If he did that, I guess I can make sure that someone gets a proper farewell and "Godspeed".

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Helpful resource

Suppose you will be traveling in the USA and want to attend a church..... of just about any denomination..... for a Sunday (or Saturday) worship service.

Here is a very helpful website I came across in my internet meanderings recently:

How about in the UK???? Try


You can "google" some other sites. I later find out that they are sponsored by one denomination or group of evangelical churches.... the ones above have a fairly expansive listing.

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