Getting back to this

I should be getting back to this … someday.

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A Church Success Story

A few months ago, on whatever Sunday the story of the ten lepers was the gospel lesson, I preached a sermon challenging the congregation to get up from the side of the road and start moving. The teens present heard the message and came to the Vestry (our church governing board) with a letter echoing the sentiments of the sermon and saying that they were frustrated with the comfortable, but relatively inactive stability of our parish, that they wanted the church to grow both in size and in mission, and that they wanted to be part of the moving forward.

The Vestry’s response was to challenge them back by encouraging them to put forward a youth candidate for the then up-coming vestry election. The kids pointed out that a 3-yr term (which is the standard term of office for governing board members in the Episcopal Church) was too long for a teenager (any 16-18 yr old would have to resign to go to college). So the vestry created a 1-year fully empowered youth representative position on the vestry and it was filled by a 16 y.o. Junior at the annual meeting.

The Vestry also asked the kids what they would like to do in the way of mission and, after researching the question and discussing it at the youth group meeting, they decided they would go to the Gulf Coast to aid in the on-going Katrina/Rita recovery. Fifteen of our folks, teens and adults, have signed on to go on the trip, and they invited two other parishes who are going to send another 15 persons.

It was agreed with the kids that the parish would fund 1/3 of the cost from the operating budget; our bishop’s youth missions fund (established just a couple of years ago) is providing a grant for another 1/3; and the kids are responsible for raising the remaining 1/3.

The fellowship committee met with the kids and came up with some fundraising ideas, one of which was a Men’s Cake Auction. The idea was that the men of the parish would be challenged to bake a cake all on their own and then these would be sold at a potluck at church. We though maybe 15 cakes or so would result and we’d raise maybe $500 for the effort.

The sign up resulted in 29 men agreeing to bake confections and the auction was held today. Two guys turned out to be unable to carry through on their commitment, but each made a separate donation in place of the cake. So there were 27 cakes auctioned off. Some of them were incredibly creative, and there was a great variety of types — lots of chocolate, a pistachio cake, a carrot cake, a cake made in the shape of our church building, another in the shape of an 18-wheeler, one that looked like a huge hamburger!

Total raised: $2750! Amazing — these darned cakes sold for an average of over $100! My carrot cake went for $180! The cake shaped like our church building sold for $260!!!

Great fun was had by all present and more than 80 people stayed after the auction to enjoy a potluck luncheon and dig into a few of the cakes for dessert.

And most of all there was a real sense of folks buying into the mission project.

It’s amazing what a little well-channeled youth frustration can accomplish.

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Water or Wine?

I cannot claim authorship of these words of wisdom…. I received them from a friend, who was forwarding an email to me. I have no idea to whom to attribute the following thought:

To my friends who enjoy a glass of wine.. And those who don’t.

As Ben Franklin said: In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria. In a number of carefully controlled trials, scientists have demonstrated that if we drink 1 litre of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli, (E. Coli) – bacteria found in faeces. In other words, we are consuming 1 kilo of poop.

However, we do not run that risk when drinking wine & beer (or tequila, rum, whiskey or other liquor) because alcohol has to go through a purification process of boiling, filtering and/or fermenting.

Remember:
Water = Poop
Wine = Health

Therefore, it’s better to drink wine and talk stupid, than to drink water and be full of shit.

There is no need to thank me for this valuable information: I’m doing this as a public service.

Imbibing rodents

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It is easier for a camel….

This image is from a website entitled Un discipulo de Dali? The title is quite apt as the artist, Vladimir Kush, is clearly a disciple of Salvador Dali and, one might suggest, an heir and successor to the great surrealist, as well. Check out the site; the work is quite lovely.
Surreal image of camels passing through the eye of a needle.

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My Dad

May I reminisce for a moment about my dad …

He was 38 years old when he killed himself in an single-vehicle automobile accident.  Just a couple months shy of his 39th birthday.

He was devilishly handsome.  I have photos of him in his army uniform from WW2, his high school graduation form, and a picture of him in a plaid sportcoat with his fedora at a rakish angle taken just a few months before he died.

He was a drunk.  I didn’t know that at the time, but later-in-life conversations with my mother revealed that.  The night before he died, they had been at a party and he’d had too much to drink and they’d argued and so he’d driven off in a huff — “Going back to Kansas” — and never
made it.

He was fun.  I have these 4-year-old and 5-year-old memories of being in my dad’s T-Bird with him, he would let me shift the gears.  We went hiking in the desert, he and my late older brother.  He taught me about the desert and about boating on Lake Mead.  We had an electric train set that always went around the Christmas Tree — we put tinsel on the tracks and it made sparks when the train went over it.  (Of course, tinsel was metal in those days, not mylar.)

He was an accountant, a CPA, president of the state CPA association.  He was smart.  He did audits of the casinos for the state of Nevada.  On Saturday mornings he would take me with him to the casinos to pick up the weekly books for review (we let my mom sleep in on Saturdays).  I remember the people in the casinos.  Early Saturday mornings, dressed in long elegant evening gowns and tuxedos — you don’t see that now!  I met Joe E Brown, Joe Lewis … hell, I’ve even met the Rat Pack … somewhere there is a picture of me at four years of age sitting on Sammy Davis Jr’s lap.   My dad was a very early civil rights advocate — he was a fan of “Negro” entertainers — Cab Calloway was his favorite band leader — and thought it wrong they were excluded from the Vegas hotels and casinos.  So he and colleagues invested in and built a hotel casino named “The Monte Carlo” where blacks weren’t excluded.  Of course, it was in some ways both ahead of and behind its times and failed and he lost a ton of money.

He was a war hero.  I have his purple heart and his bronze star citations from WW2.  He was a corporal in the artillery and was badly wounded doing his job as a forward spotter.

He was my dad.  I only got to know him a little bit.  I wish I’d had more time with him.  Hell, I wish I’d had more time with my mom, who died in 1999, with my brother who died in 1993, and with my stepdad who died in 2004.  But mostly, I wish my kids had known their grandfather.

My man I know named Adrian O’Connor owns a B&B in the town of Doolin in Co. Clare, Ireland, and is a folk musician.  I believe he was born in England of an Irish immigrant father.  He sings this really great song about returning to Ireland with his father; I think he wrote it.  It makes me tear up whenever I listen to Adrian sing it.   I never had the chance to return home with my dad.  If you have the chance, talk to your folks, go home with them, listen to their stories, cherish them.  Because once the chance to do so is gone, “sure, it’s lost and gone for ever.” (as Phil Coulter sings in “The Town I Loved So Well”).

Thanks for letting me ramble on….

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Bubble Shooter

OK … I admit it … this is really stupid.

A friend sent me the URL for Bubble Shooter and warned that it is a “time waster.”

She was right!

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Sunday Morning at Home

It’s very strange to be sitting in my den at 8:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning!

The past two days, northeastern Ohio received a considerable about of snowfall – nearly 20″ in our area.  This is not large for some areas, but for us, at the end of the winter season (with the municipalities run out of road salt), this is a load!  Three local counties, including our own, either ordered or requested that people stay off the roads — emergency traffic only.

So, like our neighbors the United Church of Christ congregation, the Foursquare Gospel chapel,  the Lutheran parish, and others … we canceled our morning services.  (An evening service is as yet undecided.)

For a clergy person, sitting home on a Sunday morning doing nothing is bizarre!  In a few minutes, my wife will probably get up — we will read the Daily Office together (which we do every other day of the week), and then we will watch one of the Sunday morning TV news-and-talk shows (probably CBS’s Sunday Morning).

This is, I suppose, how many of the 80% of Americans who don’t attend religious services spend their Sunday mornings.

I have to admit that I can understand why people would prefer to laze about, relax, not jump out of bed, shower, shave, down a quick cup of java, and rush off to church.  (To say nothing of getting the kids out of bed on yet another morning….)  Yes, I can understand that.

And yet, I don’t understand it, because right now for me there is something missing.  The fellowship, the music, the liturgy of Holy Communion, the sense of connection with God and with men and women who share that connection … that’s what’s missing.  An easy morning with the television and the newspaper simply cannot take the place of that connection.

Sunday morning at home just doesn’t compare with Sunday morning at church!

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