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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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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Needs and wants

"But mommy, I need it!!!!!!!!!"

Most of you have heard this - approaching you from the opposite direction - as you roll down the aisles of the grocery store, attempting to make sense of all that bombards you from shelf after shelf after shelf.

There is one child in the 'upper deck', legs dangling through the appropriate bars of the cart, facing a parent who looks frazzled (particularly if other siblings are in tow).

He picks up the pace of his plea, becoming agitated, the heels of his blinking sneakers banging into the rear of the carriage "I need it, I need it, I need,ooo that one....Maaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeee.....I need it!!!"

In the meantime, poor Mommy has already passed the impulse item of the moment and is trying to steer the cart out of harms way - despite the fact that her field of vision is impaired by the toddler who is now draped over her and pointing in the opposite direction.

What in the world does this child need so badly??? Something that has bright packaging or that has been seeping into his consciousness through a TV commercial that plays each and every break during a children's program. The expression of something desirable fits more into the column "wants".

And let's be honest here..... we adults can flip around the term 'need' a great deal: I need a piece of chocolate, a cup of coffee, a new car, a retroactive promotion, a swimming pool.

So perhaps it's time to separate the needs from the wants.

We need the necessities of life: basic shelter, clothing, food, a form of labor, assistance in disease,infirmity, catastrophe. We need to love and be loved. As Christians we need Christ and some form of community - we need to have some sense of purpose and worth. [There are others you are free to add here- but you will have a lively debate with me if you insist that chocolate is a need and a food group unto itself]. We should not "want" for our needs.

While 'need' implies a requirement, 'want' implies desire. Living in the US - or the UK or France or Australia or Canada or Norway, etc. our application of language has become a bit sloppy, hasn't it?

God blesses us with so very much. Hearken back to the image of the megagrocery store - have you ever been struck by the choices and plenty before you??? Good grief!! Choose between twelve brands of toilet paper - the available (and often disposable) abundance could numb the senses.

About this time of year I do some fall inner cleaning to prioritize my needs and my wants - perhaps you might want to do the same.

Individuals and families have returned from their summer vacations and parishes in this and other countries are now starting up their mechanisms for programs, education, stewardship, outreach, liturgy. When it comes to your own spiritual life, be intentional about your needs and your wants..... and make them known. What do you require of your community, your church, its leadership --- and what is on your 'optional' list. Make both known and back it up with a positive investment.

Telling your like-minded neighbor in the back pew that you need to hear a good sermon (for a change) is a 'want'. Taking the time to tell the preacher that you need - for your spiritual life - to be challenged or inspired or educated or uplifted by her/his sermon expresses your need.

Do you need a designated pew spot? Do you want to help the homebound? Take a piece of paper. Make two columns. Separate the needs from the wants. Doing this exercise may be an enlightening, freeing experience.

..... Or you may find that you have to invent a third column for that chocolate.

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11,2006

This was the view from my car through my high tech mobil phone this moring as I waited patiently (probably MUCH more patiently than usual) to drive to the United Nations.

I remember that day as one in which I became a better Christian because I cared so much for my lost sisters and brothers that I volunteered regularly after work on Friday nights to work first the pile and then it was the pit. I saw a need and responded.

Holy God, open my eyes and the eyes of others to seed many things and many people in need of our support and our love. Equip us with that kind of patience wisdom and generousity even now - every now - every today.... for the love of Christ. Amen and Amen Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 10, 2006


September 11, 2001 will have occurred five whole years ago.

The weather forecast for New York City for both Monday and Tuesday will be partly cloudy. The skies in NYC, Washington DC and Stonycreek Township, PA on Tuesday five years ago started crisp and clear, cloudless and glorious. By 9am NYC skies were plagued by a hanging blanket of arid smoke and grey particles. Then Washington, then outside of Johnstown, PA.

Praying and thinking about this sober commemoration today a word kept coming to my consciousness: consumed.

The hijackers were consumed with a combination of zeal, righteous fury, and single minded purpose.

The bodies of the airline crew, passengers, unsuspecting workers and rescue teams and hijackers were consumed by oil, heat, metal, debris.

The psyche of many survivors was consumed with horror, terror, pain and guilt.

The nation became consumed with grief and outrage.

...... and yet.... and yet.....

groups, individuals, families, partners, businesses, towns, schools, countries mobilized to send workers, supplies, prayers all to those who had died and all who had lost their way because their loved ones had been killed.

Like many clergy in the area, I signed up for shifts at Ground Zero as a volunteer chaplain. My shifts went from from 10pm to 6 or 8 am. I held hands, said prayers over remains, used a shovel, massaged necks, sometimes just walked around with my eyes open but smarting from the fine grey dust that permeated everything and everyone.

Walking in the ashen streets at 3am in November I found a postcard postmarked from Jamaica addressed to a man in a brokerage firm in WTCII. Tropical trees and a hammock on one side with the cursive message in ballpoint ink "Wish you were here!" I brought the card to the lost and found. I felt in my inmost being that the ground I was walking on was sacred and holy.

Yes, I too wish you were here - living your life with your partner or wife and family. Watching things grow and change.

I have prayed every day since then that those left on this side of the veil would fight the urge to become paralyzed or consumed by bewilderment, sorrow and despair. I pray for those who move on, never forgetting the lives who had been closely linked to theirs and hoping that memory would be more than the sum of a single day in this country's history.

Be merciful Divine and loving God. If we must be consumed, let us be consumed in your love. Hold tenderly those who mourn and continue to heal. Bless the children who have since been born, support the day long those who are growing up without a parent or sibling, and share your bliss and peace with those who have come to you, in Jesus' name. Amen

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