Showing posts from 2009

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Like Dorothy I want to go home. I want to go home where I have friends, love and support. Instead God has put me in the wilderness of South Dakota. It has felt a bit like being in OZ. I am trying to follow the road to get home. No, not necessarily home to Tennessee, Connecticut or even Brooklyn. But home with Jesus - and not necessarily heaven either... Just a sense of settled-ness and home. Knowing I am doing what God would have me do. I preached a sermon one time, There Are No Straight Lines in God’s Kingdom .   As with many of my sermons, it starts with an ordinary event or conversation.   My husband and I were driving in South Dakota and saw some trees. Now in other parts of the country seeing trees is not a big deal. It is however in South Dakota.   There are so few trees that you tend to get excited when you see them. These particular trees were planted in a straight line. I assume they were planted to break the wind that shrieks over the prairie. My husband remarked that t

What Time Is It?

If you didn't read the Kingdom Blogger entry of 12/28/2009 , read that first .  In fact, read it every day, it is good stuff! I whole-heartedly agree with David. I don’t care for resolutions.    I also agree that what we need is a Jesus revolution not just more resolutions. I am not sure I can follow yesterday’s Kingdom Blogger entry by David. I was thinking of various Christianized New Year’s activities. I’ve probably seen them all. I well remember Watch Night Services. Interestingly their origin comes from the African American community and goes back to slave days. To read more about it's history click  here . Watch night was associated with Emancipation. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation after a  watch night . I never went to one when I was a small child but I do remember my father going. I remember when I got old enough to go we would gather at the church at about 9:30 p.m.    We’d worship for a while and then eat. Lots of good food, lots of fellow

No Room for a Christmas Child

I have many Christmas stories. I imagine everyone over the age of ten has at least a few Christmas stories. I always thought of myself as a bit of Christmas child. No my birthday isn’t in December or near Christmas. My birthday comes in early November. So why am I a Christmas child? Well I suppose everyone who knows Jesus is a Christmas child. So how is my story different? I think that my life in Christ started at Christmas. My parents were born-again, spirit-filled people. My spiritual heritage runs very deep.  From what I understand, I was “unexpected.”  My father was already in his 50’s and my mother, 19 years younger than my dad was in her early 30’s. They had decided ten years before that their family was complete. God evidently had something else in mind.  I came along.  Our family traditions were all Norwegian. Christmas Eve was the start of Christmas in our Norwegian neighborhood in Brooklyn. We put up our tree and had our presents all on Christmas

The White Picket Fence

The kingdom of God is like…. So many parables come to mind if you are familiar with the scripture. Jesus says the kingdom is a farmer sowing seed, a man hunting treasure, a woman kneading dough, fishermen casting a net, a man forgiven a debt, a wedding guest who forgot his jacket, virgins waiting for a bridegroom, a landowner being generous. It is like seed, yeast, pearl, fish, banquet, vineyard; it all seems so random and unconnected. Perhaps this is why the disciples were always so confused. I have a story about the kingdom of God. I think the kingdom is a bit like the story in Shriek where all the “unusual” come to Shriek. Or maybe it is like that old Christmas classic, about the misfit toys that save Christmas. There was a little church in Pegram TN that felt that it was a bit like the land of misfit toys. We all were hurt and wounded but we came together and advance the kingdom with love and care. One of the ways we did this was to give free breakfasts. As Pastor, my theology s

Eating Ladoos to the Beat of a Tabla: Lifting Up Jesus

Sharing my faith in the typical ways is not easy for me anymore. Once upon a long time ago I was involved in a “Summer of Witnessing” as a teen in NYC. Teens from mostly the Midwest came to Brooklyn to use the  Roman Road  and tell people about Jesus. I liked the silent prayer partner role the best. However, I would also take my turn, going through down the  Roman Road  and hope for a prayer. We reported every day of our numbers and have services every night. I don’t remember every seeing any one we witnessed to during the day show up at that meetings. I remember street meetings in Brooklyn that I have already mentioned in this blog. In one of them, with a group from Nyack College, I remember leading someone to the Lord. I never knew what happened to him. I got involved with a group that had a plan for winning Brooklyn for Jesus. We took blocks and targeted them with prayer and door knocking, all very strategic.  All of this was before I finished the tenth grade. To say I was a bit ze

A Time to Moan

The phone rang. I answered. It was a strange voice on the phone saying Good Morning Sister . He went on to introduce himself as Brother Charles from a church in East Nashville. He told me we were ordained by the same ministerial fellowship. He was having a dedication of his ministry and wanted to know if I’d participate. The Sunday afternoon date was free so I said sure. Always ready to help a brother out. Since our first phone conversation, my role had expanded from reading a scripture to actually dedicating the pastor and the ministry. One of the Bishops from our ministerial fellowship was supposed to do this but they couldn’t make it. Since I was the only one from the ministerial group available, it looked like this task fell to me. I had never met Brother Charles or his wife when I showed up that afternoon for this dedication. The church met at an elementary school. The congregation was African American. I am not. I met another Bishop in a maroon and white liturgical robe.

Hamantaschen - Let's Eat!

(This has appeared other places but thought I'd post it here too). Recently I did a paper for school. I am always doing a paper for school. This topic was to be a time I gave pastoral care to someone. Why is it that you never can remember something when called upon to do so? It was like what? Me? Did I ever minister? At last, I thought of Rose. Rose was in her 80’s, Jewish, suffering from a dementia, confined to a wheel chair and living in a dementia unit at a relatively posh assisted living facility. I would see Rose once a week as part of my job. She rarely made sense. Sometimes she would scream for her husband. Nevertheless, I liked Rose. She was loud and Jewish. I think she reminded me of where I grew up, Brooklyn. It was March and Purim was nearing. Purim is the Jewish celebration built on the Biblical story of Esther. I had asked Rose about her spirituality. She would sometimes light up when I mentioned something about faith. I decided to purchase a children’s book on

It's Not Just a Thrift Store

Christmas isn’t Christmas without Salvation Army bell-ringers and red kettles. When I was a child in Brooklyn, those bell-ringers were usually Salvation Army (SA) officers in full uniform. Sometimes there was a small brass ensemble playing Christmas carols rather than a simple bell. They were usually outside of the Woolworths on Fifth Avenue BROOKLYN (not Manhattan). I knew the Captain of the local Salvation Army Corps. Like most everything we associated with in the neighborhood, she was Norwegian. My first memory of the leader of the local corps was walking with my father and coming across a street meeting in progress. Street meetings had a little music, a short sermon, an invitation to receive Christ right there or to the local church. When I was five or six, I first met Captain Johnson. It might have been Lieutenant Johnson then but mostly I remember her as Captain. While we were not Salvationists, my father loved to go to different churches when there was a se

The Sounds You Crave

Have you ever noticed that your ears are a bit like your mouth? Just like your mouth waters for grandma’s special cookies, pie or stew, there are times you just get a craving to hear something that brings you pleasure. Just like the delight on your tongue, your ears tingle and feel satisfied just at a sound. I feel that way when I go back to Nashville. When we first moved to Tennessee, we would hear: Ya’all I’m fixin to go to the store I carried my mother to the store ya’all want a buggy? It sounded so strange and we would laugh. And that accent!? So tinny and high pitched. Children and even adults always called me Miss Joyce. I feared that my children would be viewed as rude since they had never been taught to use the polite Miss in front of a name. As a family, we purposed to NEVER pick up the Southern accent nor ever use fixin in a sentence. We haven’t. Yesterday I went to the bank in Nashville. A simple activity. I pushed the button for the pneumatic tube to go inside th

The Rich Woman and Tapir the Barber

Someone asked me recently about an unusual ministry opportunity. I have had them. There was the time I was asked to go to an African American Seventh Day Adventist church. I was one of two white people out of about 300 African American’s. They were such warm lovely people. I loved all the Happy Sabbath greetings. Now before we get into a discussion on theology, let me just share with you what happened. My husband worked with a woman from the island’s name Marcia. She asked my husband one day if we had any saris. She knew my husband was from “somewhere over there.” He said no but we had salwar and kameez, the traditional dress of Pakistan. She was supposed to give a mission talk at her church. He quickly volunteered his wife and daughters to help her. I asked him many questions. Since he has a tendency to only half listen to anyone, he wasn’t much help. He had a date and it was a church. Then he said I think it is during their regular worship service. In my mind, of course I thought S