Friday, October 12, 2007

The May Day Flowers

There once was a little girl with big brown eyes. She had short brown hair which her mother called "a pixie cut." The little girl wasn't sure what a pixie was, but she dearly wished that her mother would let her have long hair. Long hair that you could curl and tie up with ribbons.

The little girl was four years old. She lived in a big white house at the top of Strawberry Hill Lane with her parents and two little sisters. Her littlest sister was only a baby, barely a month old. She was a very sweet baby who for now, was taking up quite a bit of her mother's time. The other sister was just turning two. She too had big brown eyes but she had lovely blonde hair that hung to her shoulders.

One Saturday, the girl with brown eyes went out in the yard to play. Her little sister went with her and together they chased about blowing the heads of dandelions. As they watched the clocks drift off in the breeze, the little girl began to wish there were other flowers in her yard. The day before she had learned all about May Day. The class had made little May baskets out of construction paper to hang on the doors of their friends. The teacher had said that sometimes people would also give flowers to their friends to celebrate the first of May. The little girl thought this sounded like a marvelous idea! She and her sister would pick a bunch of flowers for their mother. But where would they find them?

Mother had always said that the girls must stay inside their yard. They must stay inside the fence that surrounded the yard. The girls walked along the fence line hoping to find flowers on the edge of their yard. All of a sudden, they found an opening in the fence. The girl with the brown eyes couldn't remember seeing this opening before. She thought about this very carefully. Mother said to stay inside the fence, but they weren't going outside the fence, so this must be a doorway into another part of the yard that they had never seen before.

The older girl took her little sister's hand and through the opening they went. The little sister wasn't too certain that this was a good idea. But her big sister assured her that they were breaking no rules and as long as they stayed together, they would be fine.

As they went through the opening in the fence they passed through some trees into a clearing. There were flowers everywhere. A whole garden of flowers to pick and choose. As they walked through the garden they saw other houses that they couldn't remember seeing before, but on they went. After all, they were in their own backyard.

The two girls picked handfuls and handfuls of flowers. Red and pink and yellow- even blue. They tried to be careful and not cut the stems too short. This would never do for Mother's beautiful bouquet! When their arms were fairly laden with flowers, the two girls turned back to go home. They made their way back through the trees and the opening in the fence and hurriedly went to the back door.

They rapped on the door and beamed as their mother came to answer. "Happy May Day!" they shouted. Their mother looked stricken. "Where did you get those flowers from?"

"From the back yard," said the girl with the big brown eyes. Her little sister kept quiet, knowing that they were in some kind of trouble. And after all, she was just two years old and not expected to speak for the group.

"But we don't have flowers like that in our yard," said their mother. The girl explained about the opening in the fence and the marvelous gardens in the secret part of their yard. Her mother still didn't seem happy, which confused the girl because the flowers were so beautiful.

"Honey, that's not our yard. That's a gate that goes out of our yard into the neighbors' yards." The little girl was sure there must be some mistake. But Mother explained as she walked out to firmly shut the gate.

That Sunday, the flowers picked by the two little girl were placed on the altar at church. Mother said she wanted to share their beauty with the rest of their friends, but the little girl suspected there was more to the story.

Friday Five: All about the B-I-B-L-E!

1. What is your earliest memory of encountering a Biblical text? I'm not really sure, but I have to say that "The Good Shepherd Bible Story Book" was probably the source. The cover was Frances Hook's illustration to the right. My mother would come into our room and sit on the end of one of our bed's. (We took turns... bed 1, bed 2, bed 3...) Then she would read us one of the stories before we said our prayers and went to sleep.

2. What is your favorite biblical translation, and why? The NRSV is my favorite for its scholarship. Sometimes I miss wording from the RSV because it was the translation of my childhood.

3. What is your favorite book of the Bible? Your favorite verse/passage? See what love the Father has for us that we should be called children of God- and so we are." I John 3:1. I also am especially fond of Jonah and the gospel of Mark.

4. Which book of the Bible do you consider, in Luther's famous words about James, to be "an epistle of straw?" Okay, so first of all I want to defend my man Martin. This is from a longer article by James Swan

"... this quote only appears in Luther's original 1522 Preface to the New Testament. After 1522, all the editions of Luther's Bible dropped the "epistle of straw" comment, along with the entire paragraph that placed value judgments on particular biblical books. It was Luther himself who edited these comments out.

It is true Luther had a contextual problem with the content on James. He saw a contradiction between Paul and James on faith and works. Some conclude Luther missed the harmonization between these two Biblical writers, but this isn't true either. Luther's great biographer Roland Bainton pointed out, "Once Luther remarked that he would give his doctor's beret to anyone who could reconcile James and Paul. Yet he did not venture to reject James from the canon of Scripture, and on occasion earned his own beret by effecting reconciliation. 'Faith,' he wrote, 'is a living, restless thing. It cannot be inoperative. We are not saved by works; but if there be no works, there must be something amiss with faith' " [Here I Stand, 259].

Having said that, I really think that if you are patient and if you are willing and if you are kind- all of the books make for good cradles for Christ.* All of them have something to say about God's goodness and grace.

5. Inclusive language in biblical translation and liturgical proclamation: for, against, or neutral? I learned this one best from my dad who once said that if the language used for proclaiming the Word made someone feel left out of the good news, then we need to make a change. I am for inclusive language by all means. But I am also for serious scholarship, accurate translations and language which calls to mind all of the wonders of God. Inclusive does not mean deadly dull and neutered.

Bonus: Back to the Psalms--which one best speaks the prayer of your heart? Like a lot of Lutherans, Psalm 46 has a special place in my heart.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

After a long dark period, I found Psalm 13 which spoke to something in my soul.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me for ever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes....
But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

And then there's 150. A shout and dance and join the band kind of song!
Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his surpassing greatness!
Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with clanging cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

*Another Luther quote which says that the Bible is the cradle in which we find the Christ child. It is the book in which we find God's Word.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


We had our IRS audit today. Bug Man hates to be late, so we were 45 minutes early for our 8:30am appointment. But we didn't hit traffic! (Of course not, everyone else was still drinking their coffee at the kitchen table.)
Since I am the one who does the taxes and keeps the books, this was scary for me on two levels. 1) What would the IRS say and do and 2) what would the Bug Man say after we left the audit. Last night after we had our goodnight kiss he said, "If it goes well, I'll buy you lunch. If it goes bad, you buy lunch." When the two hours were over, the auditor said Bug Man had to take me out. Shwoo!
I still have papers to collect and fax to the IRS, but it's nothing I can't get together. The relief was such that we both took long afternoon naps. To everyone who kept their fingers crossed and sent up a little IRS prayer- thanks ever so! In talking to the auditor it was interesting to see how boring we were. She told us of a "horrible incident" that took place in her cubicle earlier this year. As the couple was providing her with paperwork, it came out that the wife had been forging W-2 forms in order to trick her husband into thinking that she had a job that was taking her out of town. In actuality there was another man in the other city and no job. Yikes! Neither the audit or the marriage turned out well.
I will sleep much better tonight. And thankfully, the Bug Man will be right there with me. Oh, and when we got into the restaurant this afternoon, he forgot his wallet. I bought lunch. But it's okay, he knew the truth! ;-)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Re-arranging the Furniture

So I changed the cosmetics of my blog. I'm not sure it's what I wanted, but I was bored with green. (It's the long green season, don't you know!)

The need to recolor the blog made me remember stories a friend used to tell about his mom. When he was a kid, you never knew when you might come home and find that mom had completely switched the living room around.

I decided it was genetic. He grew up to be a pastor with a modular chancel platform and "flexible seating". You never knew when you might come into worship and everything had moved.

Hooray for the Big Burrito!

Back in the 1990's Little Sister #1 and I went to this little Mexican restaurant in Denver. It was kind of cute. Corrogated metal was on the walls. Stacks of supplies were part of the decor. There was very little seating available. We sat at a counter that faced an exterior window eating the hugest burritos I had ever seen. The food was great and the line for lunch went right out the door.

Fourteen years have passed since the first Chipotle Grill opened and now it is a huge chain. But up until now, there was no Chipotle in my city. This was not a crisis but I did experience withdrawal. In my last city, Adventure Girl and I would declare it was "big burrito day" at least once every ten days. This was especially important when the midweek children's ministry would be serving boxed macaroni and cheese or hot dogs cut and boiled to look like octopi. (It does nothing for the hot dogs, at all!)

Well, I am glad to announce that Chipotle has finally made it to the home of the Liberty Bell. Half way home I spotted the bright lights on a new location. I can hardly wait to step in the door to order a Carnitas burrito (pork seasoned with thyme, bay leaves, juniper berries and freshly cracked black pepper - seared, then braised for hours) with cilantro lime rice, black beans, cheese, sour cream and the medium heat corn salsa. Yummy!

What do the acorns say?

Will Smama recently posted photographs of the acorns that completely cover her driveway. There was considerable posting related to the hazards of getting a twisted ankle on said acorns, but nothing about the impending snowstorm!

According to yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer an abundance of acorns on the ground is a sign of a hard winter. Or more appropriately, it's an old Farmer's Almanac kind of sign. The Inquirer tends to depend a bit more on meterologists.

Only time will tell if the acorns are right about this coming winter. October has been unseasonably warm in this part of the woods. But just in case, I'm going to start looking for a nice pair of warm boots!