the sign

The shepherds live in the fields. That is where they keep watch for trouble. The shepherds know a lot about trouble. They are the first to be told. An angel - a messenger - from God stands in front of them. The glory of the Lord shines around them. It means that the energy of God crackles in the air. Is it like the Northern Lights? Is it like sunlight radiating? Is it like when your heart is full to overflowing? Yes. And more. It is frightening. The shepherds are terrified. What kind of message can the angel be carrying? Why here? Why now? Why us?


velcade - cycle seven

Half way through cycle seven comes the good news that my kappa free light chain count has dropped to 80, down from 96. Since anything below 100 pleases my doctor, I am pleased. Weekly injections of bortezomib (aka Velcade) in conjunction with dexamethasone continues to minimize the activity of myeloma and amyloidosis in my body. The dexamethasone ramps me up with energy each week and then leaves me fatigued for a couple of days when it wears off. Other than that, I continue to live a normal life (or, better put, a newly normal life). Yesterday marked the first anniversary of my return to ministry after receiving an autologous stem cell transplant in September 2011. It has been a year of mostly good health (with the exception of the unexpected hospitalization at Easter because of an allergic reaction to Revlimid). I am receiving these days, weeks, months and - now - this year as gifts and am grateful for the care, concern and prayers of such a wide circle, near and far. In the face of so much ache in the world I am blessed.


time is our choice of how to love and why

This year on Epiphany (January 6 at 7 pm) our congregation is co-hosting a dramatic reading of W.H. Auden's long poem "For the Time Being". The poem sets the Christmas story as a timeless event that also takes place in our time. In it Auden blends lyric poetry with comic verse and prose. Mary and the angel Gabriel seem timeless while Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men are our contemporaries, stumbling their way into a setting that almost - but never altogether - overwhelms them. Between now and Epiphany I will share some lines from the poem here, beginning with these words that conclude the experience of the shepherds and wise men at the manger:

    "O Living Love, replacing Fantasy
     O Joy of Life revealed in love's creation
     Our mood of longing turns to indication.
     Space is the Whom our loves are needed by,
     Time is our choice of How to love and Why."


re-orienting our lives

Each year that we publish "Salt of the Earth: A Christian Seasons Calendar" we take delight in discovering the ways in which word spreads and the calendar finds its way into the hands of some who have not seen it before. This year has once again brought surprising new connections. Richard Beck at Experimental Theology and Chris Smith at the Englewood Review of Books included news about the Christian Seasons Calendar on their blogs while Linda Parriott arranged an interview about the calendar for a podcast that is now available online at Clayfire Media. We're encouraged whenever and wherever this way of re-orienting our lives within an alternative calendar that tells a surprising story of hope and of God's power to make new on the other side of trouble, oppression, suffering and even death itself resonates and takes hold.


the language of redemption

Yesterday's sermon is .... well, what is happening to it? I was going to say it is dissipating. There is no written record of it. Writing it down gives a feeling of permanence even though what is written down is only a collection of symbols that proximate the experience. Whatever God may be making of the sermon is happening in the congregation that gathered to participate in hosting the Word. That something intriguing occurred was reflected in the number of people who took the time to say something about it, something that indicated it had been a good word, a new word, a surprising word. I think I know the moment when that word found its highest voltage and connected with the soul of the congregation most powerfully.

the only thing it cannot be

"Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important."

- C.S. Lewis