Thursday, December 27, 2007


As you can all well imagine, the past few weeks have been... hectic. To say the very, very least. The only other time of year for a pastor that's anything resembling as busy as the Christmas Season is Lent/Easter. On the one hand, Easter is the most important of the Christian Holy Days (incidentally, holy days = holidays) and on the other hand, most pastors also celebrate the secular side of Christmas, too. So in the end, the amount of time and effort put into both seasons kind of evens out.

Which is all a long way of saying, it's been very... hectic. And in about a month it's going to be hectic again! Meanwhile, let's go back in time... it's December 16th, and a disgusting "wintery mix" consisting mostly of snow and freezing rain has descended on the New England seaboard. The word comes down from the top. Church has been cancelled for the day. Radio and television stations are called, a message was left on the answering machine, and this pastor, at least, tried to go back to bed!

And then this appeared in my e-mail from Zoltan Toman, and I just had to share it with you all:

Dear Pastors,

Josh and I, we got up early,
wrapped up in duds, so cozy, burly,
we braved the snow, wind and rain,
defrosted the car and shoveled the plain
surface bare of sidewalk and drive,
came in, warmed up, 'til we felt alive,
watched 61 and 12 to make sure,
then went out in the white stuff, as if we were lured.
To hear the Gospel Word by the Deacon spoken
To hear the holy Cantata sung unbroken
by the FCC heavenly choir of voices,
Meted out by Dr. Joe's particular choices.
We braved swirley snow and pelting rain,
watched the plows unclog the drains,
And we reached Church St., and then, by St. Pete!
we saw a lonely, forbidding, snow covered street!
No church goers plodding up to the doors
crimson red from upper lintel to floors,
No clanging of bell to welcome the faithful,
No greeters or meeting those who are grateful!
Alas! Let down, saddened and chastened,
we returned to Park St., then we hastened
to the piano and parlor, Upper Room and Bible,
and we three gathered 'round read the word of the Disciple
James,and sang Come O Long Expected Jesus.
And didn't let lack of a service grieve us,
'cause Advent is something you hold in your heart...

If only everyone were so willing to not let the lack of a church service grieve them!

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

PS If you share the above poem, please give credit to Zoltan Toman, the poet!

Friday, November 30, 2007

And There Is Another Like It

Here's another video from the Campaign for Real Beauty I think it makes an even sharper point than the first one...

Be good to each other
(and yourself)
Rev Josh

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Talk to Your Daughters

Talk to your sons, too. I'll always remember a study shown to me in my high school health class. It consisted of a series of drawings of women ranging from skeletal to obese and a series of drawings of men from skeletal to steroid-abuse-muscle-bound. Every participant in the study was asked to pick the drawing that they thought the opposite sex would be most attracted to, and to pick the drawing of the opposite sex they were most attracted to.

Without fail, the girls believed that the guys wanted them to be more skinny than the guys actually wanted.

And the guys believed the girls wanted them to be more muscular than the girls were really attracted to.

Makes you think, doesn't it?

On a similar note, one of my favorite people showed me this video recently, and I simply must share it with you, my faithful readers!

Turn up the sound and hold on tight.

Be good to yourself
Rev. Josh

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

All Apologies

Greetings loyal readers. I know you must be loyal, because if you're still reading my blog after a month of inactivity, you must be loyal! And so my first apology. I'm sorry I waited so very long to update my poor, neglected blog.

Which begs the question, what's my second apology? Well, I recently received some anonymous feedback as part of my official yearly evaluation process that questioned the appropriateness of my last post for our teens. Apparently the primary message these folk got out of the post was "My mom didn't want me to get a tattoo, but I did it anyway."

If that's the message I was sending, then they are right. That is not an appropriate message to send our teenagers.

To be fair, I was trying to send the message that it's ok for a 30 year old man to come to a different conclusion than his parents. That I was glad that I did not get a tattoo as a teen, because I surely didn't know enough as a teenager to warrent a perminant alteration of appearance.

However, I learned in communications class that what you communicate is defined by what is received, not what you sent.

So I apologize for my previous post. And now I'm going to try to be clear.

Teens should not get tattoos. The biggest part of being a teen is the process of figuring out who you are and what you believe. Things change very fast for you now, and all through college. So until you're out on your own, making your own living, and able to deal with the rights and responsiblities of being an adult, listen to your parents. They really do know better than you do. I know you're going to rebel, that's part of growing up. But for my sake, don't get tattooed to rebel.

Get a piercing instead.

Be good to each other
Honor your Father and Mother
Rev. Josh

Friday, September 28, 2007

Aslan Tattoo

"Who is Aslan?" asked Susan.
"Aslan?" said Mr Beaver. "Why, don't you know? He's the King. He's the Lord of the whole wood, but not often here, you understand. Never in my time or my father's time. But the word has reached us that he has come back. He is in Narnia at this moment...

I'll admit it, I've been putting off writing this post. Not because I'm ashamed (I'm not) but because I don't know what my parents will think. Some of you might pointedly ask me how old I am. (I'm 30) Some of you may even make jokes about a full grown adult still being afraid of his parents. But that's not it, not exactly. The thing is, I respect my parents and I care deeply about what my parents think, and this is one of the few places where I am forced to say that my thought probably differs from both my mother and my father. But honestly, they both brought me up to be a critical thinker and I know they still love and respect me even when I end up in a different place than they are.

Over a year ago, I wrote a post about how I was considering getting a tattoo of Aslan on my left shoulder. I'd been considering a tattoo for many years, since my early days of college, but I clearly remember my brother an I talking about tattoos in front of my mother. Mom's reaction to the idea was not favorable. I'm very close to my Mom, and her opinion matters.

However, after much soul searching, praying, and consideration, I decided to go through with it. My opinion concerning other people's tattoos has for a long time been that they should be absolutely sure that the image they choose is something they are willing to have on their body forever. I think something that's going to be perminant should have a great deal of meaning to you. And I think the placement of the tattoo be someplace appropriate to your profession. (For example, a lawyer probably shouldn't get a tattoo on their face. Circus performers can, if they really want to.)

I was inspired by the artwork on the cover of my copy of the collected Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. As most of you know, Lewis' classic work has deeply influenced me over the years. The titular Lion, Aslan, is a vibrant characterization of the Christ as He would appear if there were a world of talking animals such as is found in Beatrix Potter or Kenneth Grahame. Just like Potter and Grahame, Aslan is a part of my childhood. Aslan is a part of my first thundering epiphany ("You know those books are about the Gospel, right?"). Aslan represents my first struggles with anything resembling an organized theology. Aslan is tied up in one of my first projects in my first full time position as an ordained minister, and one that was very successful. Aslan is a concrete example of how popular culture and faith do not have to be separate, which has always been a mainstay of my personal theology.

Once I'd made my decision, I asked one of my parishioners where she got her tattoo done, and she referred me to the good folks at Sleepy Hallow Tattoo. I e-mailed them, explaining who I was and what I wanted done and included the picture you see at the top of this post. I was excited by the response, which showed me that they not only understood what I was looking for, but also that they knew who Aslan was in all his complexity! So I made the fateful appointment...

When my wife dropped me off the day I got it done, I found a framed page from a tattoo magazine on their wall that put into words something that I hadn't been able to yet. It was a quote from a famous tattoo artist called Spider Webb.
“Tattooing when understood in its entirety must be seen as a religious act. The human being brings forth images from the center of the self and communicates them to the world. Fantasy is embodied in reality and the person is made whole.”

Here, in plain English, was what I was feeling about the process as I was in the midst of it! I found the fact that the folk at Sleepy Hallow had it up on their wall very encouraging.

I was further encouraged by the drawing Brandon had done for the design of my tattoo.

I had the whole thing done in a single sitting, but it did go on for hours. Luckily they had a little DVD player for me to watch. I brought in the multidisk set of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, of course. I got all the way through the movie and most of the way through a full length film of Lewis' life before we were done. Yes, it did hurt, but it wasn't unbearable. Some parts of my shoulder hurt more than others. Afterwords it felt very much like a bad sunburn.

But it looked like this!

I was sent home in a gauze bandage that carefully came off in the shower the next morning. I washed the tattoo and put on anti-bacterial ointment three to five times a day, and after a few days (I forgot to count, sorry!) the top layer or two of skin peeled, again, like a sunburn.

Click the picture to make it big enough to see how it looked like the tattoo was coming off! And it was really hard not to pick at it!

Eventually it stopped hurting and stopped pealing, just like a sunburn. Can you tell that I've been sunburned enough to know? Anyway, it's all healed up just fine now, and I think it looks pretty good!

So, Aslan stays perfectly hidden away, even under a short-sleaved shirt. He's not a secret, but he's not out where people could potentially be offended by him. And he's beautiful. And I'm happy to have him. And even though he's not what my parents would have wished for me, I hope that they can be happy for me, too.

Honor thy Father and Mother,
Rev. Josh

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Aslan is Coming

"They say Aslan is on the move—perhaps has already landed."

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Happy Birthday, Brother!

Hey! It's my brother's birthday! It turns out that he's still younger than me. And since he wrapped my iPod until the package was about a foot cubed, I made him work for his present this year. A blast from our past resurfaced. Pirate Pete! Pirate Pete used to hide the goodie bags for our birthday guests and leave behind a trail of clues to follow to their location. A wonderful treasure hunt! I'm sure my parents held their breath the whole time, as kids pounded hither and yon... Anyway, Pirate Pete made off with my brother's present, and he had to follow the clues to get it!

I don't think he had to work any harder than I did to get through that stacking doll style wrap job at my birthday. Then again, he's threatened me with duct tape for my next present. Sigh... let this be a lesson in escalation, boys and girls.

Speaking of escalation, here are some wicked cute pics of my bro:

I don't remember that railing, but that has to be the house we initially moved into when we first came to the state. I hardly remember that tricycle, either, but he seems to be enjoying it, doesn't he?

I don't remember those jammies, but that has to be the same house as before. The hat is our father's (I think we still have it somewhere) the ball and bat saw quite a bit of use, even though neither of us became anything resembling athletes. Oh, and Mr. Potato Head's mouth and glasses were never quite the same again!

All cuteness, kidding, and escalating wrap-jobs aside...

Happy, happy birthday, Brother. We love you.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh
092207 (birthday)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Something Serious

By now any loyal reader of my blog knows where I stand on the subject of censorship of all kinds. In a recent New York Times article, the world became aware that the Federal government (Yes, OUR government.) has decided that it has the right to systematically purge the chapel libraries in the federal prison system.
This purging does not only target texts with a violent philosophy, because the government didn't have the wherewithall to actually read all of the titles that were already in the prison chapels. So they created a very limited list of "approved" texts and are removing all other titles from the shelves. In the article, a professor of law, Douglas Laycock, summed up the situation this way:
“Government does have a legitimate interest to screen out things that tend to incite violence in prisons,” Mr. Laycock said. “But once they say, ‘We’re going to pick 150 good books for your religion, and that’s all you get,’ the criteria has become more than just inciting violence. They’re picking out what is accessible religious teaching for prisoners, and the government can’t do that without a compelling justification. Here the justification is, the government is too busy to look at all the books, so they’re going to make their own preferred list to save a little time, a little money.”

Please take the time to read the Times article, and then go here to e-mail the appropriate federal official and tell our government that ours is a country of religious freedom!

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I've been really struggling with the question of whether or not to include in my links list the blog, Queersighted, which I would describe as an editorial blog from a GLBT perspective. I keep running into it, I think through my AIM page that pops up when I get on. (My handle is revjosh211, by the way.) In any case, it does deal with issues of sexuality, which makes it kind of PG13 reading. However, the perspective is always interesting, and I imagine it would help straight folk get into the heads of real GLBT folk, as opposed to those swishy stereotypes that have been so thoroughly integrated into our popular culture.

Besides which, I simply had to share with you this scam that I just read about on Queersighted. Apparently there's a website that claims to be able to scientifically test whether or not your baby is gay. You just make your child lick a piece of paper and then send it in to them. And then they "test" the saliva on the paper to see if your baby is gay, and send you the results. Oh yeah, and they charge you 20 bucks for it. Please, for your own sake, do not give such people money. First of all, I don't think there is any such test. Secondly, in my opinion, it's a lot healthier to just let your child grow up as he or she will. I'm not saying that you shouldn't be a good parent and raise your child right, but... geeze, there are so many more important things to be concerned about when it comes to your baby, ok?

"No, Mom, don't make me lick the paper!"

Finally, I ought to mention that our church is going through the Open & Affirming (or ONA) process. This is an opportunity for the church to learn and grow in their faith and understanding through a great deal of dialogue and discussion around issues of sexual orientation as it relates to the church and issues of hospitality and welcome in general. I have created a links list for Open & Affirming, and I have tried to be very even-handed so people can use them all to make informed decisions.

I'm afraid I do have one more "socially liberal" link than I do "conservative" (yar, we need better nomenclature) because I thought I ought to include PFLAG. So if any of you know of something that's like PFLAG from the "other" perspective, feel free to let me know, and I'll include it!

And if any of you know of a way I can have these conversations with fewer words in "quotes" feel free to tell me that, too.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Monday, September 10, 2007

Keepin' On Keepin' On

Quote of the Day

"Hey, Smart-Athletic-Son-of-Parishioner, what did you think of the new service?"
"It was awesome!"

I can't say it any better than that. It went well, I did use the long hyphonated string from the previous post in my welcome, and it got applause! Gasp and surpise! Although, later on one parishioner did tell me she had problems with my use of the word "boring." I've considered that, and the fact is, most of the teens, preteens, and childlings I work with do find the traditional service to be excruciatingly boring. *shrug* Anyway, I'd like to thank everyone who helped (and will continue to help) make this service run so well! And I'd like to thank Elizabeth for her comment on my last post. Maybe it's just a little shallow, but it's always nice to get some praise and thanks for hard work accomplished!

Well, Senior Pastor is taking the last of his vacation time, so I'm in charge. Lots of writing to be done...

Be good to each other.
Rev. Josh

Friday, September 07, 2007


Ok, so, apparently I'm really not capable of posting every day. Which I think makes the past couple of days the fastest lapse ever. In any case, I've been working really hard on a Power Point presentation for our brand—spanking—new—right—out—of—the—box—some—assembly—required—informal—experiential—experimental—multimedia—alternative—to—the—same—boring—old—Sunday—morning—worship—service service. And now I'm totally going to have to try to remember that whole huge thing for the welcome Sunday night.

Anyway, I've been using a lot of stock photos from stock.xchng for this project, I'd I thought it'd be nice to show you some of my personal favorites...

Absolutely gorgeous sky, what else is there to say?

Speaking of experiential, this young woman looks like she's caught up in the Holy Spirit, doesn't she?

I wonder if anyone who will be at the service has ever seen an icon of Christ before?

I was looking for an image that says, "Dancing in the Light of God." I think I found it.

I'm really excited about this new service, I'm sure it's going to be sparsely attended to start off with, but I also believe that if we stick with it, it will grow. (And so will the church.)

Be good to each other!
Rev. Josh

Friday, August 31, 2007


So, I ran across something today that amused me, so maybe it will amuse you, too. I wiki-ed (don't you love the way Wikipedia has become a verb?) Romper Room because I was writing a pastoral prayer. Ok, so I'm not going to make the Romper Room reference in the prayer after all, because I'm not sure everyone would get it. At the end of every show, Miss... well, whichever Miss you had at your television station—would look through her "magic mirror" and name all the people she could "see" out there in TVland. Kids were encouraged to send their names in so they could be "seen" by Miss Whoever. Sometimes when I'm praying the pastoral prayer, I feel like one of the Misses from Romper Room, because our congregation is large enough that the names of those being prayed for can become a very long list indeed!

But here's the thing: When those pre-schoolers heard their name being spoken out of the television especially for them, it really did mean something special. And when the entire congregation is praying for your loved one by name, it means even more. I just wasn't sure that the connotation of the reference would come through in the prayer.

Anyway, I discovered this wonderful story about the Japanese version of Romper Room, Ronpaaruumu. It falls under the catagory of "Kids Say the Darndest Things," and if you can't stand the proper terms for certain male body parts, just skip down to the nice video. For the rest of you, sate your curiousity by reading on...

The Japanese version had a controversial episode; when hostess Midori Utsumi (second hostess) asked the kids, Tell me a word that begin with "Ki" (き or キ). A boy answered with "kintama" (testicles). Miss Midori replied "Do you know any words that are more beautiful?" The same boy responded with "kireina kintama!" ("beautiful testicles"; the word "kireina" (beautiful) also begins with "Ki"). After a commercial break, the boy was replaced with a teddy bear. Midori Utsumi, who has since became a major media personality, often tells this story on some TV programs that she appears in.

The above was quoted directly from Wikipedia, which is linked under "Useful Stuff." And finally, I found this clip from Romper Room on Youtube. Well, it's a little long to be called a clip, maybe, but it at least shows the "magic mirror" part, for those of you who don't remember Romper Room! Oh, and if you remember these commercials, you're probably beginning to feel old... (but you probably aren't yet).

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh
083107 (again)


So, I took the time to post yesterday, and I didn't get completely swamped by all the other writing I need to be doing. So I'm going to try on the idea of posting at least a little something every day I'm in the office again. We'll see if this concept actually survives Advent this year!

Of course, one of the dangers of this newfound self-discipline is that I don't have brilliant ideas for entries every day, and I'm afraid today is one of those days. It's Friday, I'm a little tired, I have to get up early and perform a funeral tomorrow, and overall I'm feeling just a little down. I'm not sure why, but I think it has something to do with the way I see people treating each other on the road. On the way back from the gym this morning I watched a young lady cross the street in the crosswalk while blathering away on her cell phone. She was probably somewhere between a quarter and a third of the way across when a guy (I almost said "gentleman," but he wasn't acting like one) in a beat-up green car started laying on his horn at her.

BEEP! BEP! BEP! BEEEP! BEEEP! BEEEEEEEEEP! Granted, she ignored him, kept walking and blathering away on her cell phone, but really, it didn't cost him more than 30 seconds to slow down and let her get out of his lane. And the look on his face was just... demonic.

Besides, I'm pretty sure the law states that pedestrians in a crosswalk have the right-of-way.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

PS I did not take either of these pics, they came from Stock.Xchng

Thursday, August 30, 2007

"I got that guy"

Hey, I've got a lot on my plate today, well... the rest of the week, really. And I wasn't going to post today, but I ran across this incident on MSNBC that I simply have to get out there.

Did Tucker Carlson say on air that he and a friend beat a guy in a bathroom stall for propositioning him? And is it just me, or was the general response... glee? Doesn't that fit the definition of gay bashing? Shouldn't the appropriate response to any part of that situation be the opposite of glee? I'm not saying that anybody should be propositioned for sex in a public restroom. You ought to be able to urinate without having to worry about unwanted advances. But I will also say that approaching someone for sex shouldn't be grounds for being assaulted, whether you're gay or not.

I guess there are several lessons here. Stop watching MSNBC, they're inappropriately gleeful over there. Don't proposition people in public restrooms—public restrooms are usually gross to begin with and most people just want to urinate and get out of there as soon as possible. And finally, don't proposition Tucker Carlson for sex, ever—he might respond with violence.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More Written Words

Hey, I know it's been a long time, but I've been on vacation! You'd think that would mean lots of time to write, but what really happened is that it was lots of time to visit and be visited! Which can be just as busy as work, only much more fun! (And this coming from someone who really loves his job!) In any case, I'd like to share a poem that came out of my week at Silver Lake counseling for The Written Word. The fool thing keeps refusing to be titled, either I have no ideas or too many... I'll keep thinking about it. Anyway, here it is.

I hear familier voices singing alongside new.
I feel the floor as it bounces and moves with the shrieking throng.
I see the pulsing mob occassionally disgorge a happy and flushed dancer, out of breath and laughing.

And I, no dancer, bask in the glow.

And I don't mind.

Content, I find myself thinking that I've only ever danced to please another.

As if on cue I see them suddenly baring down on me.
I'm being mugged by dancers!
"Give me your money!" replaced by "You have to dance now!"
"Ah! Ah! Ah!" I reply as I am dragged by both arms, struggling, to the dance floor.

I hear familiar voices alongside new.
I feel the floor as it bounces and moves with the shrieking throng.
I see the beaming faces of my abductors as they dance freely, effortlessly, consumed by joy.

And I dance as best as I'm able.

And I don't mind.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Is It Still Road Rash If You Do It On A Chain Link Fence?

So, I don't have a pic of the "rash" in question, (my skin is too brilliantly white to get a good pic...) but I'd still like to know... Is it still called road rash if you do it on a chain link fence? And you'd like to know how the question came up in the first place, I imagine!

Well, this is your bike post, the one I alluded to last time. Actually, this is kind of a postscript to my skateboard post. If you remember, or feel like going back and looking at it, I decided that I couldn't very well skateboard to work with the sidewalks being as bad as they are. And I ended with the question, "Now where'd my bike go?" The answer is: Nowhere, it's right at home, hanging up in my parents' garage, right where I left it... um... gotta be over 10 years ago now. Or rather, that was the answer. Today the answer is:

Chained to the railing in the entryway of the church.

That's right, I've been riding my bike to work! Praise me! Considering that I hadn't been on the thing in over a decade, I think I've been doing pretty well.
Now, I know that some of you might be against it, but I've been riding on the sidewalks. Call me a coward, but I simply do not trust the way people drive on Main Street (or Stratford Ave. for that matter) enough to be in the road with them. Besides, if I take the sidewalks I don't have to cross Main Street to get to the church. I think the main argument for not riding on the sidewalks is that it's rude and/or dangerous to, you know, barrel down on pedestrians with your bike. And I agree with that, of course! But over half of my ride has a strip of grass between the sidewalk and the curb and lawns on the other side, so I can get around padestrians!

And the rest of my ride? Well, pretty frequently I end up walking my bike for at least part of it. I'm scared of corners. I know, I know, but I actually took a pretty bad turn into my parents' driveway one time, lost control, hit a driveway light, went over the handlebars onto my head... So I'm afraid that I might loose control when I'm turning, because I've done it so spectacularly before. Now, the turn out of the apartment's driveway is really safe, but the next turn is onto a really busy street, so I dismount and walk my bike instead of trying it. Cause if I did loose control, I'd end up on the hood of a BMW or something. And then I often walk it just a little bit further, because the sidewalk gets really narrow right after that. All these pics are taken on the way to the church, by the way, but it was on the way home, in that narrow spot, that I earned my "road rash." I got a little too close to the fence side of that little gap, and, well... I was wearing a short-sleeved shirt! (Cool. I just discovered that sleaved is a real word, too!) So I didn't scrape myself on the road, per se, but I did do it biking... is that still road rash?

Major intersections that I have to cross, I do so walking my bike, with the walk light—there's no sense in taking stupid chances. Especially when you're on a bike and the other guy has an SUV. There is one last corner I walk, it's just at the church, and it's actually got a decent descent to it. (Try saying that three times fast!) I was biking downhill when I lost control all those years ago, and I don't want to repeat that, especially not when loosing control would probably mean ending up in the street—or running into the side of a car! I doubt if my insurance covers me running into a stationary car on my bicycle!

For what it's worth, I can make that turn coming from the other direction!

Anyway, I'm feeling pretty good about bicycling to work, and I'm going to keep it up as much as is safe. Thanks to my folks for helping me get the bike here, and giving me enough money to get it tuned up and safe. Thanks also to Dawn for staying on the cell phone with me and talking me to Tony's Bikes and Sports. I never would have gotten there without her!

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bash Bish

You were going to get a post about bicycles. Or rather, my bike. And you will, but not today. Because I forgot that taking pics on the way to work doesn't do anything for today's post, because I need to bring the camera home to upload them...

So, instead, the first installment of Silver Lake posts! Yay!

So, I think I mentioned that I was a conselor for a creative writing conference called The Written Word last week. I thought it would be silly to simply tell you about how I've been writing and not share any of it with you, so here's the first piece that came out of the week for me. But first, you need the setting: This piece came out of a writing exercise we did downstream from Bash Bish Falls. I'd say that this is a first draft, but I suspect that I'll be doing some editing as I transcribe it from my hand-written copy into the post, so in effect you'll be reading a second draft. I'm all about the constructive criticism, so if you have any, please, be my guest and comment!

Wednesday, 072507, Bash Bish

I meander down the bank of the stream, feeling secure in my old boots, looking for a new friend to make. As I sit here, writing this, I resist the urge to smile and lovingly give him a little pat. I know him well enough now to be confident that he would not appreciate the gesture.

But I get ahead of myself. It was downstream from the little beach that he caught my eye. He was, in general, shaped like all the other rocks, but something about his pockmarked features spoke to me.

I picked him up, ranged upstream and found a large rock in the center to sit on. Then, after a brief interlude involving the need of a pen, the return to the bank to retrieve a pen, and the subsequent decision to roll up my pant legs, remove my boots and socks, and wade back to the center, I lay him down on the stone next to me, and he began to tell me his story.

"Who but God knows the immensity of the pressure, the literal physical weight under which I was formed?"

I knew there was something about this rock, he has already brought proper focus to me, setting my mind on God, I thought.

"Who but God remembers the great, tall and fantastic mountain of which I was once a part? A spire so tall that it would seem to be a route into heaven. Who but God can comprehend the terrible cold, or the inexorable grinding movement of the glacial flow or the insistant tumble of water, or the more intermittent working of wind and rain that has worn me down to the palm-full of pock-marked stone you find me to be?"

I left him there, to ponder heavily the working and mystery of God. A smile and a pat seemed inappropriate.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Vacation is Work!

Hey everybody, been a long time, I know, so sorry, so sorry. Lots of things have happened since I posted that long, long post about a tiny piece of General Synod. Most of which happened during vacation. (Actually, I have only had half of my vacation, the other half is coming in about a week... don't ask, it's not worth the telling, lol!) But let me backtrack a second. Just before my vacation, I learned from Elizabeth (she of Modern Day Slavery and Red Leggings) that she was going to be involved in a presentation in the park of Shakespear's The Tempest. Awesome! I find out from her that the show will be running every Friday and Saturday in July. Way cool, plenty of time to go see it!

Well, as soon as I reach my vacation start, Jenny (she of Yarnpie) and I head home to visit the fams. We watch the new Transformers movie with my brother... and then we go searching for a walk-in clinic. It turns out that Jenny has Strep. (Cue evil music.) But not just in her throat. Oh no. She has a lovely ear infection to go with. By the time (hours... horrible hours) we get out of there, Jenny has been proscribed an antibiotic... and is tripping on Vicodin. No, you can't have any. So I got to take care of Jenny for a while.

We spent some time cleaning out closets (now, to clean out the rest of the apartment made messy by the closet cleaning... hmm... vicious circle anyone?) We also tried to spend some actual quality time with the fams. We also got to see my friend, Bob, from seminary. He and his wife came down to see the aquarium, Bob's got a thing for penguins, so he was happy! We had to hurry home so I could get ready to go to Silver Lake to be a councelor for The Written Word, a creative writing conference for high school students. I would be leaving Saturday late in the morning... to...


I haven't been to see The Tempest yet. I suggest to Jenny that she could go on her own, but she would rather wait for me. She gets online and re-discovered that the Saturday I come home is the last showing, not the Saturday I go up, so we make plans to see it when I get back.

Now, I love Silver Lake, and it was a very good week, I think. But there wasn't a whole lot of sleep involved. Ok, so only half of that was the fault of the youth (Harry Potter is my Kryptonite) but the fact remains that I was dead on my feet by the time we got to the park. But I really wanted to be there to see Elizabeth (and, it turns out, another member of my church) in the play.

Only, Elizabeth wasn't there. I haven't had a chance to talk to her since I've gotten back, but I hope everything is ok... and I fear that she might have told me she couldn't make that last performance. If so, then I am truly sorry.

Anyway, The Tempest was very good.

But it would have been better with Elizabeth.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

PS I just reread this post, and I realize now that my tenses are shifting all over the place... and I just don't have the umph to sort them out. You'll just have to deal, lol!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Bubble Man...

...that's me! There are so many things to tell you all about General Synod, but I think this might be my favorite. I was a volunteer at General Synod this time around. (You can't say "this year" about something that happens every two years, right?) I wasn't at the registration table, like the people in the picture, but I did get to wear a snazzy blue shirt. I was a greeter, and as such I found myself standing outside the Civic Center, smiling, answering questions... and blowing bubbles. It may seem like I was shirking my duty, but I really wasn't. I was greeting on the tail end of Synod, and most everyone knew their way around by that point. And blowing bubbles didn't keep me from greeting, smiling, and answering questions. Besides, bubbles make people smile. It is always amazing to watch people's reactions to bubbles. Children, of course, want to play with them themselves. (And I, of course, let them.) Some children were very eager to show me how to blow the biggest bubbles. Some simply wanted me to keep blowing bubbles for them to pop!

Youth are another thing altogether. And if you believe that, I've got a nice bridge to sell you. Granted, some are too cool to pay attention to bubbles, or at least try to be. I saw one young man, I'd venture to guess of Latin descent, purposefully striding down the street. He was wearing a backwards baseball cap, baggy jeans, and a tight white tank top with nothing but rippling teenage muscles beneath. A gust of wind took a whole flock of bubbles into his path, and he succinctly waved them out of his way. Then he caught me grinning at him, and dared to smile. Cool kinds aside, quite a few of the youth reacted immediately with a joyous cry of "BUBBLES!" Some even thanked me for the bubbles! And one brother and sister immediately set about the very serious task of attempting to catch the bubbles... on their tongues! One of them actually accomplished the feat!

Full grown adults seem to be the least likely to chase the bubbles down and pop them with their hands, let alone their tongues. But if you watch adults closely, they will smile. Sometimes it's only with their eyes, but they do. Sometimes they even give you a big grin, a wave, or a thumbs up! A few people proclaimed, "Hey, it's the Bubble Man!" and I would grin and say, "Yup, that's me!" or "Absolutely!" Some few adults would strike up conversations with me, and I would invariably tell them this story.

I was a Youth Delgate to General Synod 22, which was held in Providence, Rhode Island. (Geeze, that was in 1999... practically ancient history.) I remember sitting at a table during a plenary session, bored out of my ever-loving mind, when I looked across the hall and saw that some other Conference had one of those bubble guns and was sending streams of bubbles up into the rafters. It was amazing to see these very serious delegates, very seriously paying attention to the utterly boring meeting... until a bubble came floating by, and then suddenly a sense of awe and wonder and simple child-like happiness would overcome them. I've bought bubbles—and used them—at every Synod I've been to since.

Well, the sidewalk is pretty uncrowded when a mom and her daughter come around the corner. The mom is half a block away when she calls out to me. "You're the coolest volunteer I've seen so far! You're the only one who's had toys!" So we strike up a conversation, and I start to tell my bubble story. Only when I get to the point where I say, "some other conference" she can't contain herself any more.

"That was me! I had the bubble gun!"

So I made a cool connection and proved to myself, once again, that it really is a small world after all.

Be good to each other
Rev. Bubble Man

PS Go blow some bubbles someplace crowded, it's worth the time.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Under Construction

I've just finished overhauling my blog! Isn't it pretty? I hope it is also functioning for you. I've had a few little catches along the way, and I hope to be able to tweak it... well, anyway, I hope you enjoy it, and please bare with me as I get used to the new stuff!

Be good to each other.
Rev. Josh

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Father's Day... and not.

First of all, I'd like to wish a very happy Father's Day to my dad. I know it's Wednesday, I've been very busy. And unfortunately I was very busy last Sunday, too. But Jenny got to go home and be with the dads various, so my father did get his card, and his copy of His Dark Materials, by Phillip Pullman. And besides which, I'll get to see him soon when the family comes down for General Synod.

And now for the "not" of the post title. I recently ran across this somewhere, and discovered that it's on Youtube. It's a Japanese gameshow, and, well, it's just fun-looking, ok? *grin*

Be good to each other!
Rev. Josh

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Queer Kinda Day

Queer is one of those words that means many things and is in fact undergoing change. One must, therefore, be careful in how it is used. When I use the word (and I do use it very sparingly because I don't want to offend our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered (glbt) brothers and sisters)I usually intend it as an umbrella term for glbt folk. It has, of course, a history of being what the dictionaries call "offensive slang," but it is also being reclaimed by the glbt community, so... languange in flux. So you might be asking yourself why I would be using such elusive language in a post. The answer is simple. The poet in me couldn't help it! It was a queer, as in strange, kind of day in part because it was a day where extremely straight themes ran along side extremely queer as in glbt themes!

I performed a funeral today. Very straight-laced and one might assume heterosexual croud. It went well, but it was, well... a funeral and all the somber that normally entails. After the funeral I had some wonderful conversation with Dr. Joe, which is by definition an experience of a queer. (Don't worry, Dr. Joe is very out and would enjoy the turn of phrase, he wouldn't be offended so you don't need to be either.) And the first thing I ran into this morning before the funeral was the following advertisement.
Powered by AOL Video

I don't know how much time I'm gonna have to get into this film festival, but I really want to. Maybe some of you will get to see some of it and will be willing to let me know what you think?

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Friday, June 01, 2007

Grand Experiment

Or rather, the abrupt beginning and end of a grand experiment. I believe that in a previous post I might have mentioned that I was considering an alternitive mode of transportation to work. Something that will help me save on gas. ($$) Something that will help me get a little more exercise. Something that would be fun to learn, maybe. And then I remembered my skateboard! I never got very far with it as a kiddo, because we lived in a housing development where we didn't have sidewalks. In fact, there are very few places in all of town that does. I've always wondered how the skater culture took root at home, with no place to, you know, skate. Anyway, it turns out that the old board was still at home, and so I asked Jenny to bring it here one of the last times she took a trip up there. That and my helmet. (gotta protect the ol' noggin) It was just as pink as I remembered. (What? It's from the '80s, man!) And... lo and behold I can make it go in a straight line! Score! That's all you need to stay on the sidewalk, right? So, fully aware of how silly I must look, I got up one morning, got dressed in my work clothes, added my helmet, and skated off. I got maybe a third of the way to work when I ran into sidewalk that looked a little like this:

and then like this:

and this:

and finally, this:

I think... I didn't think to get much in frame that would tell me where exactly along the sidewalk these were taken. But you get the picture. I was probably carrying my board for at least half the way to work. At which point, why shouldn't I just walk?

Now where'd my bike go?

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Three Years! Weeoo!

So, last Tuesday was our third anniversary. (I almost typed "yesterday," where is the week going? Heck, where did the last three years go? O.O ) Anywho, Jenny got me a wicked cool present, it looks like this:

or like this:

It's so much fun! You put a marble up at the top, and it winds it's way down through all the troughs and gadgets and widgets until it finally drops into the recipticle at the bottom. It also inspires you to use words like "troughs" and "recepticle" and also to check out the Think Geek site.

Jenny also knit me this!

Does he remind you of anyone?

To see what Jenny got for our anniversary, go check out her blog.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Counting Blue Cars

I just have to share with you a post from the blog Red Leggings, on the off chance that you haven't been clicking that link over there ------->

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Have you ever noticed your own humanity? Today, I've really seen it. It is terrifying but is full of grace and beauty. I'm going to take a walk soon. This is not your ordinary walk; it will be done with intention. I will be totally conscious of the soul I posses and nourish it. I've spent too much time wanting to kill it. Sometimes, it all boils down to the belief that God knows the truth. We can either take it in like a cool glass of water, or push it away until we are literally sick. I've done both; and I know to feel that refreshing water go into my system (whatever truths it delivers) will sustain me.
I know a while back, I was sure that God was a woman. But, I am deeply in love with this God I know who is an energy - the life force. Its presence is my lullaby.

With all the power of red leggings,

Elizabeth always seems to have some refreshing thoughts on God, and I sincerely hope that she keeps sharing them. God is so awesome and awe-inspiring, so much greater than we are that we have no recourse but to reach for metaphore. Is it any wonder that there is so much poetry in the Bible? Is it any wonder that Jesus himself spoke in metaphore? Elizabeth was convinced that God is a woman. And Elizabeth was right. Now she knows God as living water, lullaby, energy—as life-force. And Elizabeth is right. But I think that what's important in this post is that she finds God in her own humanity. As one of my favorite authors once wrote, "being human is a terribly important proposition." Or something like that, I've loaned my copy out again. *smiles* And I think it's just as important to note that we all can identify with the idea of taking it in, or pushing it away—even wanting to kill it. Much like someone on VH1 once said, if don't identify with Radiohead's Creep at least a little bit, you were probably a total jerk in high school. I could go on at length (there's probably a sermon in all this somewhere) but I won't. Instead I'll say—

Be good to yourself,
Rev. Josh

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ocelot? Take two!

For some reason when I try to put the daemon into a post, it does not show up on the preview. But when I publish, there it is! So here's a bigger version for you to peruse.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


I recently got onto Dawn's blog and discovered that she has a daemon! Apparently, this daemon is part of a movie promotion (the setting, at least, sounds very intriguing so far, if you're into the whole sci-fi/fantasy scene) and is an avatar intended to represent who you are.

I had to try it out!

If you look in my sidebar, you'll what daemon was chosen for me in response to the little test I took. What I want to know is, do you all think it describes me? You have a chance to weigh in on the subject! You have 12 days before that daemon becomes mine forever, please click on her before that happens to see if we all agree on what I'm like!

Go on! Click it! I'll wait...

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Water and Walking

This Sunday afternoon is the CROP walk, a fundraising campaign to end world hunger through Church World Service I've been on many of these walks over the years, especially if you count the ones where I was dragged along in a little red wagon by my parents. It's not even a question for me every year. I'm going. But here's a little something for those of you who may not get the why's and the wherefor's of the thing. It's a true story I recently found in a publication put out by CWS. Although it's a story about water, not food, it still puts a whole new perspective on the mantra, "We Walk Because They Walk."

Water: The Rest of the story...

Our jeep came to an abrupt halt at the end of the dusty road leading to the entrance of the small Malawi village of Maziyaya. We got out, made our way throught he brush and then a cornfield, until we came to a clearing. There stood the new well. The entire "Well Committee" had assembled there to greet us. Ms. Andrea, the president of the group thanked the members of our visiting Church World Service staff group for, as she put it, CWS's kind gift of clean, accessible water.

Because I like to help people here in the United States identify with the long distances that women and children in the developing world have to walk each day to get water, I asked the inevitable question: "How far did you have to walk to get water before the well was installed?"

We had to walk to the river," she answered. "It's about 1 1/4 kilometers from here."
Thinking of the 5 km and 10 km distances that most participants hike in the United States in our annumal CROP Hunger Walks, I said quietly to a colleague standing next to me: "Hmmm.. that's not too bad."

Fate being cruel, my comment — which had not been intended for the women — was heard by the interpreter and, with a lack of any malice, translated to the members of the well committee.

The president of the group, Ms. Andrea, stepped forward and spoke directly to me.
"You're right; it's not that bad &emdash; at least not for grown women. We're used to it. But it's very hard for the little ones."

I felt my face flush. Of course I knew that. I'd worked for 10 years in very poor countries in Latin America. How, ever, had I forgotten how arduous was the daily hauling of water? I began to wish I'd kept my mouth shut.

Ms. Andrea continued: "You see, water's very heavy."

I swallowed hard. I knew that, too; but she was correct in assuming that most Americans, who don't have to haul water every day, may not. There is probably nothing that we consume on a daily basis, besides air, that we take more for granted than the easy availability of clean water. The age-old dictum sounded in my head: "A pint's a pound the world around." I was embarrassed.

"Not to mention the fact," she went on, "that a long of our children are sick."

I'd seen that immediately upon our arrival in the village. It is estimated that 60% of rural families in the developing world still do not have access to safe drinking water. For children who are malnourished, waterborne diseases can bring on diarrheal infections that dehydrate, lowering the body's electorlytes, and can spell death in as few as 48 hours. My discomfort was growing. I was mortified and wanted to go and hide.

"Not to mention the fact that the river is downhill from here and the children had to carry the water back up the hill," she added.

Humiliation is too euphemistic a word to describe what I was feeling. Yet it's important to state that she was saying these things in no way to "put me down" but out of a sincere desire to help me understand just how precious this new well was to them. Still, I was squirming.

"Not to mention the fact," she again went on, "that the river water is polluted with schistosomiasis, guinea worm, and other waterborne bacteria, so that once we'd hauled it back here to the village, we had to do more walking to find firewood in order to boil the water to make it safe to drink."

I wondered: How long would this verbal, even if unintended, flogging go on? I wanted to find a hole and crawl into it when, mercifully, Ms. Andrea put an end to my misery.

"Not to mention the fact," she concluded, "that getting water from the river was dangerous for the children."

"Dangerous? How so?" I asked, sensing a slight opening, the possibility of a slight reprieve, an opportunity to justify myself if, perchance, she might have gone too far out on a limb by using hyperbole with that adjective.

Speaking through the interpreter she explained, again matter-of-factly, "The river is crocodile infested."

It was the coup de grâce.

Today, even after 10 years have passed, when I turn on the water in my kitchen sink it's hard not to think of the village of Maziyaya, and my embarrassing faux pas. Far outweighing my short-lived discomfort of then, however, is the wonderful remembrance today of what a blessing clean drinking water is for one small village, far away, in the heart of Africa.

Joe Moran, Regional Director of Church World Service in the Carolinas, has worked in international development for 36 years.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

And A Little Child Shall Lead Them

I received this forwarded to me in an e-mail today, and just had to share it with you! (Ok, it didn't come with the picture, it's just a stock photo, but it's just precious, isn't it?)

I think sometimes we all lose site of what being a parent is all about. Sometimes when life moves fast we all too often expect our children to keep up with us, not remembering that they are small and just need to learn or want to learn about life. I myself have found it hard to take my time when I "need" to be someplace and I often get frustrated with my children because they just don't seem to think that the "need" to be some place is really all that important...they are right! I am learning that I must slow down to look at the flower and try to see life from the eyes of my children...with that perspective life is incredible! I found this on a website and I thought it was a great reminder...slow down, love life and cherish every moment with your children before you know it they will be doing it with children of their own!

Love to all


10 Child Commandments To Parents

1. My hands are small; please don't expect perfection whenever I make a bed, draw a picture or throw a ball. My legs are short; please slow down so that I can keep up with you.

2. My eyes have not seen the world as yours have; please let me explore safely. Don't restrict me unnecessarily.

3. Housework will always be there. I'm only little for a short time, please take time to explain things to me about this wonderful world and do so willingly.

4. My feelings are tender; please be sensitive to my needs. Don't nag me all day long. (You wouldn't want to be nagged for your inquisitiveness. Treat me as you would like to be treated.

5. I am a special gift from God; please treasure me as God intended you to do, holding me accountable for my actions, giving me guidelines to live by and disciplining me in a loving manner.

6. I need your encouragement to grow. Please go easy on the criticism; remember, you can criticize the things I do without criticizing me.

7. Please give me the freedom to make decisions concerning myself. Permit me to fail, so that I can learn from my mistakes. Then someday I'll be prepared to make the kinds of decisions that life requires of me.

8. Please don't do things over for me. Somehow that makes me feel that my efforts didn't quite measure up to your expectations. I know it's hard, but please don't try to compare me to my brother or sister.

9. Please don't be afraid to leave for a weekend together. Kids need vacations from parents, just as parents need vacations from kids. Besides, it's a great way to show us kids that your marriage is very special.

10. Please take me to Sunday School and church regularly, setting a good example for me to follow. I enjoy learning more about God.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Buzz Kill

Some days it is more difficult to hold on to the promise of Eastertide than others. This Monday, April 16th, at 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist church, the Clergy Association is presenting, "The Holocaust: An Interfaith Service." I want to share with you the real testimonial of a Holocaust survivor which I will be reading aloud at the service. (When I get the information myself, I will post the title and editor of the collection this testimonial comes from.)

We began to feel more distinctly how the ghetto was being emptied. We realized our turn would be coming soon. All the lovely things we did in the lovely Terezin. It was done all under pressure, to retain our own dignity. That's what they wanted to take away from us, our dignity. That we had to fight for. And in that respect, we succeeded.

Not that we all of a sudden felt superior, but we insisted on being ourselves, no matter how hard it was, how hard the circumstances were. Each block elder had to supply the Jewish administration every morning with a number of people they selected for deportation. A miserable job, but it had to be done—there was no way out, we just accepted it, because we were completely powerless in this situation.

But we continued conducting our services. The services were held during the summer in the open, in the courtyard. Masses of people came there every Friday night, and we sang with a choir and the real music they remembered from their homes, whether Berlin or Vienna. Basically the same melodies so they could join, and they're praying. If anybody had reason to pray, it was us.

In the wintertime, because we couldn't do it outside, we went to the attic, a very, very small area, with all these beams going every which way. We squeezed in there and I haven't prayed like this in the United States, with that intensity, not one single time. Not that I want to wish for having to pray this way. And so we did this, and this was very successful. It gave people hope and faith in the midst of all things that were happening.

Kurt M.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Easter! tide...

Ok, so I didn't have the umph to post on Easter proper, but it's still Eastertide! And a couple of people have told me that they enjoyed my post on Chocolate Jesus, so I guess it's ok that I left that up. As you can see, I've changed my background again... an ivy-covered grave seems to be a not bad metaphor for the Resurrection, right? Speaking of which, here's on more pic from Eva. It usually makes me think of the Resurrection of Lazarus, not Jesus, but the one points to the other...

This is one of the pilots of the giant robots (not the one from my Good Friday post, though) and she's just been through a traumatic experience. The robot went berserk with her inside! In desperation, the folk monitering the 'bot ejected her cockpit and waited for the robot to run out of power. Gendo Ikari, man in charge and general father figure, rushes onto the scene and opens the red-hot cockpit with his bare hands. The amniotic-like fluid that fills the cockpit pours out, and Ikari peers inside... and Rei lifts her head to meet his gaze. Birth, womb, death, tomb, father, child, resurrection... I see them all in this moment.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Friday, April 06, 2007

My Sweet Lord (Good Friday, pt II)

A thought on the controversy. As near as I can tell, what has the Catholic League up in arms is not that this statue of Jesus was crafted from chocolate. (After all, who doesn't like chocolate?) The issue, apparently, is that this statue of Jesus is naked and anatomically correct. The Catholic League sees this as "demeaning our holiest time."

Holy Week is, indeed, our holiest time--it is when we confront and celibrate the events which are the very core of who we are as Christians. Holy Week is a solemn time of celebration. It is a time to consider the horrifying degredation, beating, whipping, stabbing, and final suffocating torturous death of the Messiah... and somehow find there our own hope and salvation. It is a time to be loved and to be disturbed. Holy Week is a poetic paradox indicating the divine. As Christians, we believe that Jesus was both human and divine, nothing less than the Incarnation of God. To believe that is to know in your heart that God, in the flesh, was stripped (see John 19:23-25) and died an agonizing death. I believe that a chocolate statue of the crucified Jesus is a beautiful and brutal way to enact this holy paradox. And I believe that if we can consider the utter humiliation and ruthless execuation of any man, let alone the Son of God, as "our holiest time," then we have no business becoming offended by the idea that Jesus had a penis.

To get hung up on his genitals seems to miss the point entirely, doesn't it?

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

A Pregnant Moment (Good Friday)

The background today comes from Neon Genesis Evangelion. I posted about it in the beginning of Lent. There is a place in the story where a good 10 or 15 seconds look exactly like this:

Here we have two people locked in a life or death decision: the pilot of the giant robot and the incredibly powerful being caught up in the robot's fist. The powerful being has let himself be caught and has in fact asked the pilot to kill him. And by this point in the story, we should believe that his death is for the best, really. In fact, the powerful being has forced the issue, the only question is: Will the pilot kill be able to bring himself to do it? It has always reminded me of Pilate, with Jesus before him. Pilate does not want to kill Jesus, he believes him to be innocent. But despite everything he does and says to try to spare Jesus, his hand is forced.

Pilate hands Jesus over to be crucified, and the pilot of the giant robot simply squeezes.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday marks the transition from the sweet hosannas of the Triumphal Entry we just reinacted on Palm Sunday into the horror of the Crucifixion. It's worth pointing out that the word Maundy is traced back to the Latin translation of the new commandment Jesus gave the disciples immediately after washing their feet... to love one another. And as John 15:13 tells us, no one has greater love than this, to lay one's life down for one's friends. Jesus knows that he is about to do just this. Maundy Thursday is when we celebrate Jesus' washing of his disciples' feet, the institution of the Lord's Supper, and the betrayal and arrest of Jesus. Tonight there will be a Tenebrae service. Tenebrae means "shadows," and the shadows will certainly be closing in as, one by one, we snuff our candles tonight. Enjoy the candle flames in the background of the blog today. Tomorrow they will be gone.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Friday, March 30, 2007

Dear God...

A member of my congregation sent these to me in an e-mail the other day. I thought they were wicked cute, and I hope you do too!

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

PS Having read through them all again, there's one more thought... Children pray with a sincerity and openness that we should all strive for. And a little child will lead them...

1. Dear God,
Please put another holiday between Christmas and Easter. There is nothing good in there now.

2. Dear God,
Thank you for the baby brother but what I asked for was a puppy. I never asked for anything before. You can look it up.

3. Dear Mr.God,
I wish you would not make it so easy for people to come apart. I had to have 3 stitches and a shot.

4. God,
I read the bible. What does beget mean? Nobody will tell me.
Love Alison

5. Dear God,
How did you know you were God? Who told you?

6. Dear God,
Is it true my father won't get in Heaven if he uses his golf words in the house?

7. Dear God,
I bet it's very hard for you to love all of everybody in the whole world. There are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it.

8. Dear God,
I like the story about Noah the best of all of them. You really made up some good ones. I like walking on water, too.

9. Dear God,
My Grandpa says you were around when he was a little boy. How far back do you go?
Love, Dennis

10. Dear God,
Do you draw the lines around the countries? If you don't, who does?

11. Dear God,
Did you mean for giraffes to look like that or was it an accident?

12. Dear God,
In bible times, did they really talk that fancy?

13. Dear God,
How come you did all those miracles in the old days and don't do any now?

14. Dear God,
Please send Dennis Clark to a different summer camp this year.

15. Dear God,
Maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each other so much if they each had their own rooms. It works out OK with me and my brother.

16. Dear God,
I keep waiting for spring, but it never did come yet. What's up? Don't forget.

17. Dear God,
My brother told me about how you are born but it just doesn't sound right. What do you say?

18. Dear God,
If you watch in Church on Sunday I will show you my new shoes.

19. Dear God,
Is Reverend Coe a friend of yours, or do you just know him through the business?

20. Dear God,
I do not think anybody could be a better God than you. Well, I just want you to know that. I am not just saying that because you are already God.

21. Dear God,
It is great the way you always get the stars in the right place. Why can't you do that with the moon?

22. Dear God,
I am doing the best I can. Really !!!!

23. Dear God,
I didn't think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset you made on Tuesday night. That was really cool.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


If you startle easily or have a heart condition, do not view the following video.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Friday, March 23, 2007

Driven Before the Lord

One of my goals for the year is to get another book study kicked off. The idea is to push myself and appeal to a different audience than joined me for The Chronicles of Narnia. Well, earlier this year, Pastor Ed kindly reminded me of my goal, and so I started actively looking for a book to focus on. That's when Elizabeth mentioned that she was reading a book based on the story of the prophet Hosea. All I could remember of his story was that God told him to go marry a prostitute. I'd always read the story as God creating in Hosea's life a microcosm of God's relationship with Israel. And no, Israel does not choose to play the role of the loving husband. Elizabeth, as usual, took up the perspective of the one character I hadn't given enough thought to. Not Israel, but the actual prostitute. Of course, Jesus would expect us to pay the most attention to the "least" character. I had to read this book. So I had Elizabeth give me the pertinent info,
Redeeming Love, a novel by Francine Rivers. I finally got around to ordering it last week, and I started reading last Friday during the Nor'easter that brought us snow, sleet, and generally deep frozen ickiness. It intrigued me right off the bat, even if I did fall asleep reading it on the couch. (I'm sure that had more to do with the amount of energy it takes to drive around in the snow, sleet, and generally deep frozen ickiness all morning.) This week, it went in huge chunks, and last night I couldn't put it down. The story, and the Good Lord speaking directly through it, had ahold of me, and so I gave in to it. It was the wee hours before I got to bed, but it was worth it.

I'm totally starting a book study of this one, folks. Just as soon as I can pull it together. Considering that it's still Lent, that might mean it'll take a while. (And no, I haven't had any caffeine to counteract the lack of sleep...!) But I was blown away, and inspired, by this one--and I plan on sharing that with others!

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Up the Walls

"By the way, Josh, long time, no blog."

Well, Dawn, when you're right, you're right. So, a couple of weeks ago (yeah, geeze, long time no blog indeed) our Junior High youth group went to one of those rock-climbing places, where I immediately attempted to be thirteen again.

Look! I made it all the way up!

Now, I know I look awkward, but really... ok, I'm awkward.

But I made it! All by myself! Unless you count the nice man holding the bottom of the net so it would stop swinging... Wasn't Dawn nice to not get him in the shot?

I'm just waiting for photo releases from the youth who went on the trip, then I can show you all how it's supposed to look!

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Monday, March 05, 2007

Elizabeth Abolitionist

The other day I was talking with a mother in my congregation about skateboarding laws, because I'm considering getting one to ride to work in the morning. It seemed important to make sure that I wouldn't be breaking any laws to do so! It turns out that there aren't any laws about skateboarding down the sidewalks, but that you can't skate in places where it's posted that you can't. I suppose that businesses are concerned about possible skater-patron collisions, but I also suspect that there's also a degree of irrational fear involved. Skaters tend to travel in groups, and any time there are groups of young people, "old" people get scared. (I know 20-somethings who get nervous at the sight of a group of teens hanging out together, to in this case "old" really is very relative!) Irrational or not, it's bad for business to scare off the "old" people--cause the "old" people have money!

But it still bugs me. We're literally surrounded by extraordinary teenagers who are passionate forces of good in the world. Take Elizabeth for example. You may have read her blog, considering that I have it linked in my sidebar. Elizabeth has a lot of good things going for her, but today I'd like to highlight her abolitionist work.
She is deeply involved with Justice for Children International, a charitable organization which stands opposed to human trafficking with a focus on child sex trafficking. Elizabeth recently held a fundraiser here at the church, and because she brought that attention to JFCI, our Board of Benevolance and Social Concerns is considering allocating money to support the group. Elizabeth was even recently featured on the JFCI website!

So next time you feel nervous around a group of teens, ask yourself if any of them are Elizabeth.
Ask yourself if any of them are fighting racism, or homophobia, or child sex trafficking. Ask yourself what it is exactly that you're scared of? Because most likely, you don't have any reason to be scared at all.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh