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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, February 08, 2008

Forwarded story and a different Lenten discipline

This story was forwarded by Farmer Melissa Everett. After reading it completely I noted that the second half sounded like a VERY good Lenten Rule. What a wonderful role reversal - we can learn how to be loving, caring people by adopting a dog's perspective. Enjoy this one and use it as you see fit. Thank you, Melissa for sending it on to MOLC.


Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience. The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on.

Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why."

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?" The six-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."

Lessons we can learn from a dog

Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
Take naps.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A few chuckles to jiggle you on Fat Tuesday

The following two pieces were sent to me at different times. The bulletin piece was forwarded to me by Debbie the Hodgepodge Queen. The other came directly to MOLC. Thank you dear Farmers (both named Karen - fancy that!) for sending us a few things to chew on for Mardi Gras! Laissez les bon temps roulez!


Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight at Calvary Methodist. Come hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.

The Fasting &Prayer Conference includes meals.

The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water." The sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus.”

Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don't forget your husbands.

The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to a conflict.

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say "Hell" to someone who doesn't care much about you.

Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.

Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again,” giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.

Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is having trouble sleeping and requests tape of Pastor Jack's sermons.

The Rector will preach his farewell message after which the choir will sing: "Break Forth Into Joy."

Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.

At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What Is Hell?". Come early and listen to our choir practice.

Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.

Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 P.M. - prayer and medication to follow.

The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

This evening at 7pm there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church.
Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 A.M.. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. is done.

The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.

Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 P.M.. Please use the back door.

The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 P.M.. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

Weight Watchers will meet at 7:00 P.M. at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use the large double doors at the side entrance.

The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday:
"I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours.”


Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on your door forever.

Quit griping about your church; if it was perfect, you couldn't belong.

If the church wants a better pastor, it only needs to pray for the one it has.

God Himself does not propose to judge a man until he is dead. So why should you?

Some minds are like concrete: thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.

Peace starts with a smile.

I don't know why some people change churches; what difference does it make which one you stay home from?

We were called to be witnesses, not lawyers or judges.

Be ye fishers of men. You catch 'em. He’ll clean 'em.

Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.

Don't wait for six strong men to take you to church.

God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called.

God loves everyone, but might prefer 'fruits of the spirit' over 'religious nuts'.

God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.

He who angers you, controls you!

Prayer: Don't give God instructions, just report for duty!

The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.

The Will of God never takes you to where the Grace of God will not protect you.

You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage her.

Epiphanies -- They just keep coming and coming and coming..

E-piph-a-ny, n 1. An appearance or manifestation, esp. of a deity. 2.(cap.)a Christian festival, observed on Jan. 6, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi: Twelfth Day. 3. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into reality or the essential meaning of something, often initiated by some simple commonplace occurrence.

For some reason, that pink marching, drumming spokesbunny for a battery company comes to mind: you know, the one that "...just keeps going, and going, and going...". Epiphanies are quite the opposite: they don't go, they come.

This particular year we church folk - between January 6 and February 3 - will have commemorated and liturgically celebrated one Epiphany and four other epiphanies with Jesus, John the Baptist, the first four disciples and the voice of God prominently front and center.

The simple way to make a case for the epiphanies of Jesus is simply to recap a month of Sundays: His recognition by the Magi, the cosmic connection Jesus made with his Father in the Jordan river, John's affirmation of Jesus' Messianic nature, the about turn by the first disciples to follow Jesus, the transformed appearance of Jesus with two illustrious prophets and the booming voice of God telling the disciples to listen up. Jesus and all the other people mentioned in the Gospel readings had epiphanies.

Yes, it would be simple to stop there. Yet if we did, it would be an injustice. Epiphanies occur because the hand of God touches each of our lives. I am a Christian and the older I become, the less disposed I am to the idea that coincidences are completely random actions. I hereby make the public statement that the more I pray and the more my faith grows, the more I am convinced that God is behind many of my "AHA!" moments. Let me give you some examples.

Toward the end of her life, I visited my grandmother, Mary, in the care section of the residential facility where she lived. During a conversation she mentioned that her parents had always favored her younger sister, Ann. I recall her saying 'That's not right and I didn't make that mistake'. It wasn't until after she had died around Valentine's day six years ago that I had an epiphany and made a connection. She favored my father (the firstborn), who was dutiful but not nearly as tolerant of her as my Uncle Bob. This despite the fact that Bob made an apartment in his home for her to live when she had to move; Bob was the one who invited her to move to Florida with him and Aunt Ruthie: she stubbornly refused. She favored me over my sister, despite my leaving the Roman Catholic church and not being the marrying kind. She favored my cousin Rob over his sisters and praised his every accomplishment.

Coming from a family with alcoholic roots on both maternal and paternal sides I often prided myself on not having 'given in' to alcohol. It wasn't until I learned that ones drug of choice didn't have to be a beverage or a controlled substance that another epiphany occurred. My world revolved around food. I ate when I was sad, happy, depressed, bored, scared, in love, out of love, angry, anxious. The epiphany was that my obsession and unnatural relationship with food made my life unmanageable. I joined a twelve step program.

I always felt called to serve God - I joined a co-ed experimental religious order in Colorado; that didn't work. I sang in different churches; that didn't work. I joined a 'real' religious order; that didn't work. I stayed as far away from God and prayer as I could; that didn't work. I was accepted into the first class for the diaconate in the diocese of New York; three weeks before the ordination and two after my mother died I got the call that I wouldn't be ordained. It seemed as if THAT hadn't worked either. It wasn't until after a compulsory year of intense therapy, spiritual direction, reflection and prayer that I stopped being angry long enough to have a poignant epiphany. I heard a voice that said, 'I call: the vocation is mine, the response is yours. You were not ready to be vulnerable, to love without counting the cost. Wait for my call again.' That was a real epiphany for me. I wasn't being punished. The committee wasn't being unfair: I wasn't ready yet. The second week in May I got a phone call inviting me to meet with the committee. They subsequently put me forward for ordination by unanimous vote.

Those are a few of my epiphanies and now (or during communion or some time this week) I'd like you to take some time and think about all the epiphanies you have had in your own life. Perhaps they popped up during prayer time, but it is more likely that they appeared unexpectedly in the midst of going somewhere or thinking or grocery shopping or talking on the phone. You just never know when the wind of the Spirit will send a fresh breeze your way inspiring insight or unveiling a previously hidden meaning or causing a spiritual connection.

The God of love and life and creativity will keep sending us epiphanies: new beginnings, opportunities, challenges and moments of exquisite clarity.

By the power of the Holy Spirit you can have faith that they will keep coming and coming and coming. Amen.

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