Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thank You! I figured out the facebook button. Thanks so much. Recovering from exhausting carnival. Too tired to blog.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Don't want to blog since I can't seem to do it on my awesome phone

Blogger won't let me blog from my phone, apparently, and I'm so disappointed that I can hardly bear it.

Obviously, the wireless situation, as you can see, has been attended to. Matt is on his computer, I am on mine and so we don't need to speak any more or stuff like that. What a relief!

But I don't really intend to blog. There's too much else going on.
We've been going many interesting places--the Alamo, the Corpus Christi Boat Show, the Rodeo, Christ Church San Antonio, the awesome mall where you can get enormous plates of rice and teriyaki chicken.
The baby, in a matter of days, has gone from eating one tiny bowl of cereal once a day to eating three massive bowls of cereal (breakfast, lunch and supper).
And we FINALLY got her ears pierced.
We've been cooking lavish suppers (salmon, chicken, tilapia) and the children have been eating candy all day long.
Elphine has been devoting herself to Fun with Dick and Jane and Gwendolyn has developed a passion for the letter 'E'.
Romulus has devoted himself to TV of any and every kind (even the news if that's all he can get).
Alouicious managed to celebrate his birthday for an entire week by manipulation, trickery and whining.
And Matt has an impressive stack of books that he dozes over.
In short, we're exhausting ourselves with "rest".

OH!!!! Someone asked about facebook. I've been wasting time trying to put a fancy facebook button on my sidebar but I still am failing in that way (can any of you tell me what to do? Blogger doesn't seem to have a 'gadget for that). So see if you can find me on FB as Anne Carlson Kennedy. And if that doesn't work I'll hopefully still be able to post the link. Have a great weekend!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

update from Temple

There is a large grey cloud settled over our hotel and all the rest of Temple where we are all indulging in the forbidden pleasures of Watching TV!! All the cartoons (or partoons, as we call them) are just as awful as I remember them to be. Matt isn't watching TV. He is jumping rope and making me feel slothful. However, this bed is so extraordinarily soft, after the pleasures of camping for three nights, that I cannot bring myself to move.
When I finally do drag myself into reality we will all go back to Matt's grandmother's for breakfast. And then its back into the car for San Antonio to see an allotment of cousins.

Have set my expectation bar as low as I possibly could, I can say with enthusiasm that we had a good time camping and that our instincts--that children who have been in the car for 8 hours should not then be expected to go to a hotel and a restaurant, but rather should run around and collect fire wood, roast marshmallows and get filthy--was a true and correct instinct.

See facebook for continued sarcastic one line updates!

Monday, April 12, 2010

On the road...tomorrow

Yeah, um, so, we're not leaving today.

The car it too small the house is too filthy to just jumble everything in and drive away. We're going to go calmly and methodically through the day and take off as early as we can in the morning.

We made excellent progress yesterday. Turns out our borrowed tent is deluxe in every aspect and not difficult to put up, and I've carefully filled Matt's old army duffel to the brim with clothes for the road, and my food box is tidy and easy to access. But you can see, that's only about half of all the work that needs to be done.

The children were desperately disappointed for about 3 and a half seconds (one reason I NEVER tell children in advance what's going to happen--today we're going to the store and then for ice cream and then a clown is coming over--because the clown might not come over and then everyone is hysterical. No, their lives are routine based with sudden, unannounced and unexpected trips to the store, to church or whatever else we do weekly) until Matt told them we'd go to the park (broke the rule Again!). Apparently going to the park is equal in the amount to pleasure derived to driving all the way to Texas and camping along the way.

Anyway, I'm really grateful for this extra day. Being an eminently impractical person, I intend to shove in a lot of unnecessary items that some might not require but will make the whole experience bearable--things like the tulips from my front walk, real dishes and cutlery, a tea cozy, an array of West African cloth to use as table clothes, blankets, towels etc., and a large stack of books that I'm sure I'll have time to read but if I don't they will at least look nice, candles and their holders. I'm not big on 'nature' and 'roughing it'. If we have to go be in nature, I'm going to take as many things with me as I can. I have my mother to thank for this. Long car trips in Africa were always packed full to the brim with everything necessary to set up a full coffee break in the bush (table cloth, chairs, table, coffee, real cups, sugar, milk--Mommy, do you have that picture?).

Fortunately, the top car carrier does work and so I can take as much stuff as I want and I have a whole day to pack it.
'roughing it', in Africa

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Its already thursday and my week of 'packing' is almost over without ever actually beginning

I'm going to be perfectly honest. It is very very very very unlikely that I will ever give a detailed account of Holy Week on this blog. Right now I am lying here with a dinky baby sucking desperately on my elbow, an angry non morning child who appears to have slept in his brother's knight costume against his brother's will, a small child shouting louder and louder, 'I don't want a Pider Man Book! I want a Princeth book. My face hurts,' and two other children moving in closer and closer so that I am about to fall off the bed.

How many is that? Looks like all five.
I've vaguely glanced through many interesting blogs of people who manage to read wonderful books. I've read some of the news. I've wasted 14 minutes on facebook.

So it looks like maybe we should all crash downstairs and whine and complain our way into breakfast.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Not a real post

Happy Easter!

I'm too foggy with post Easter tired to think through the past week. I intend to give a varied and delightful account of all the proceedings as soon as I fully awake from my stupor. I also intend to work out every day this week, read the three books of the Bible I'm behind on in my reading the Bible in a year schedule, cook enough food for a week, unroll a vast tent and see if it works for real, carefully pack a small number of carefully selected summer like clothes (which means digging out all the summer things), and loose fifteen pounds in order to be able to stuff myself into a stunning vintage cocktail dress on loan to me for the days to come.

That's right, we're getting ready to drive to Texas! in a car! with five small children! and camp if it doesn't rain! and take all our own food! and make a pilgrimage to Independence Kansas to see the Little House on the Prairie!

Its going to be so fun. We're going to have such a good time. And maybe someone can offer us free marriage and family therapy when we get back.

Here is a link to all the sermons of the week.
And here are the two pictures we remembered to take of the whole week (sorry! I'm going to put them all back in their Easter clothes and stage a picture. Sorry Sorry Sorry).

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Great Vigil of Easter: Sermon, Year C

Let's begin in Matthew. If you want to open your Bible,
its Matthew 28.
Its before dawn.
I would imagine that Mary Magdalene,
the other Mary,
who is probably Mary the mother of James,
Salome and Joanna and one other woman--
that is all the women listed in all the gospels-
-probably haven't gotten very much sleep
between Friday night and Sunday morning.

If you remember,
Jesus died on Friday around three o'clock,
and Joseph of Aramathea
and Nicodemus
had rushed to take his body down,
wash and wrap him as best they could
and get him into the tomb before sun down,
marking the beginning of the sabbath.
The women had had to watch unable to participate.
It is very likely that Joseph didn't know what exactly to do,
or that there just hadn't been time to do anything properly. Traditionally,
in the absence of many high tech funeral parlors and homes,
the women of the family
would have had the task of coping with those who had died--
anointing with oil and spices,
wrapping the body.
They would have known what to do
and how to do it.
It is very unlikely that Joseph of Aramathea and Nicodemus
knew what to do
or how to do it.

But they might have also been anxious
about the two men themselves.
Remember, Nicodemus came to Jesus at night
and we have no indication that Joseph of Arimathea
was known to the the disciples as a follower of Jesus.
They were both part of the Sanhedrin
and therefore wielding some sort of power.
They displayed incredible courage
in associating themselves with Jesus in his death,
but their motives were more than likely hidden
from Jesus' hiding friends.

I imagine the women looking on
in desperate helplessness while Jesus is wrapped and buried.

Then everyone would have hurried away
before the encroaching sunset so as not to break the Sabbath.
Under normal circumstances the women
would have had Friday to spend preparing for the Sabbath--
cooking, cleaning, putting everything in order for a day of rest.
But they weren't home,
they were all in Jerusalem gathered together,
and the whole of Friday
had been taken up with the horrific and sudden death
of their beloved friend.

I imagine imagine the resulting Sabbath
would have been unbearable.
They couldn't do any work,
they couldn't create any order in the absence of order.
They couldn't clean,
they couldn't cook food all day,
they couldn't go anywhere.
Some of them were probably very far away from their homes,
making do in Jerusalem over the Passover.
The solace of work was forbidden to them.

I don't like to generalize,
but I think this may be hard for men to understand.
Lately I've gotten it into my head
that we should really try to do Sabbathy things on Sunday,
the day of our Lord,
and so I get worked into a frenzy on Saturday
getting ready for Sunday--
cooking as much as I can,
laying out Sunday clothes,
bathing the children,
having my Sunday school lesson ready,
and a pretty table cloth on the table,
and I'm beat by Saturday evening.
When I don't accomplish everything
on my list I am very unhappy.
Often when Saturdays are overrun by other priorities,
Matt starts saying at 11am,
'I forbid you to clean the whole house today, do you hear me?
I forbid you'.
Today was one of those days.

Overlay intense unexpected life shattering grief
over exhaustion
and I imagine that Saturday was a rough day.

But at sun down on Saturday
everyone was allowed to work and go places again.
I bet the house,
perhaps the house with the upper room,
where ever it was that they were all staying,
received a thorough and complete cleaning,
and probably some food was prepared
and some of them managed to eat,
and the rest of the night
would have been taken up
preparing the spices and burial linens
needed to deal with the body of Jesus
in a way that would satisfy them.
At least they could do that much.

They set out in faith for the tomb,
knowing there is an unmovable stone,
sealed no less,
as if that would make any difference.
They wouldn't have known about the guards posted.
You might remember that the Pharisees broke Sabbath,
going after the sun had already set,
and Jesus was already in the tomb to ask for a guard.
And it would have had to be a Roman guard
because Jewish temple guards
wouldn't have wanted to break sabbath.

The women go without any real plans.
They're going to have to convince someone to roll the stone away.
We know from John that they think maybe a gardener will help them because of Mary Magdalene's confusion.

If you look at your text in Matthew,
it looks like they might be there for the earthquake,
but we know from the other gospels,
that this is not the case.
Matthew wants us to know how the stone was moved
and so he puts it here.
Certainly, they probably felt it as they were walking.
Its the second earthquake in a matter of days,
the first one occurring when Jesus breathes his last.
don't know if Palestine is given over to earthquakes
in a normal way,
but certainly,
as the God of the heavens and the earth,
as the controller of all weather,
an angel descending from heaven
and rolling the stone away is excellent cause
for a second earthquake.

And certainly,
seeing an Angel descend from heaven and push away the stone
is reason enough for any red blooded Roman guard
to pass out from sheer fright.
This is important,
as I'm sure you know,
because the guards were not allowed to go to sleep while on duty, and should it have been found out that the seal was broken,
the stone was rolled away,
and the body gone,
they would have been summarily executed.
However, as you can see in verse 11,
as soon as they regain consciousness,
they hustle off,
not to their commanding Roman officer to be killed,
but to the Chief Priests who pay them money to lie
and give them cover for the lie.
This little plot is the first of many many many attempts
to deal with the fact that Jesus is not in the tomb
when the women arrive.
He just plum isn't there.
Big tomb, no body.

The angel tells them that Jesus is risen.
The tense here is so important--
not has risen,
or will rise,
but is risen.
That's what we say Sunday after Sunday--
Christ has died,
Christ is risen,
Christ will come again.
Risen is present.
That's what he is,
not dead, but risen.

They're supposed to quickly absorb this information
and go tell the disciples
but before they get there,
Jesus meets them.
And they take hold of his feet
and worship him.

Zephaniah the prophet wrote hundreds of years earlier,

Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.
16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak.
17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;

On this quiet dark night,
while all the world runs crazy
buying ham and Easter eggs
without knowledge and without purpose,
grab hold of your beloved's feet,
worship him,
let him quiet you with his love.
sing aloud.
The Holy One,
the King of Kings,
the Lord of Lords is alive,
he is risen,
he will never die again.
And at the last day,
he will raise you up,
in your body.
In your flesh you shall see your God,
your King
whom you yourself will see
and not another.

Alleluia, He is Risen!
The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Sermon: Maundy Thursday Year C

I see looking out over the vast throng that many of you were here on Sunday.
I talked about, if you can cast your mind way way back,
how Jesus took up his human nature in such a way
that he perfectly showed God's nature
as a Being who pours himself out,
who does not cling or hold on to himself
but rather pours himself out into creation and into his Son,
Jesus, to redeem the world.

Now, that's a very pie in the sky theological idea,
one that Paul drove home to the Philippians
so that they wouldn't just think about it,
they would live it.
If you're wondering where Paul might have gotten the idea
that Jesus,
who was in his nature and essence God,
became in his essence and nature a bond servant or a slave,
he got it from the gospel we just heard read.
Now, its likely that Paul did not have this text in hand,
nor that he had read it in its form here
when he wrote his letter to the Philippians,
but he certainly would have heard this story,
possibly word for word.

I want you to put your bookmark both in John 13 and in Luke 22.
I was not sure which text we would have before us tonight
and so I took the liberty of writing two sermons
and I'm going to preach them both now.

Luke and John are describing the same event--
that last supper which was celebrated and eaten
during the Jewish Passover.

Passover is the English word for Pesach
from which we get Paschal.
The passover was celebrated and eaten by the Israelites in Egypt
on the night before they fled Egypt,
going over the Red Sea on dry land into the Sinai Desert.
The meal was eaten standing up and in a hurry
so as to be able to leave Egypt right away.
The meal consisted of lamb--
a lamb without spot or blemish,
a year old.
The lamb was killed and roasted
and the blood of the lamb was smeared
over the posts and lintel
of every door
of every Israelite
so that when the Angel of Death came to take the first born
out of all of the land of Egypt,
the tenth, final and most devastating plague,
the Angel would see the blood and pass over.

I read a really interesting blog every day written by a young Jewish woman living in Israel. To get ready for Pesech, or Passover, she has to deep clean her house on a level I can only dream of, and she has to wash all the clothes and scrub every pocket and corner and inch of her house getting rid of, can anyone guess?
Leaven, or yeast. Right.
The people had to also eat unleavened bread.
Jesus likens leaven to the false teaching of the Pharisees--
a little bit goes through the whole batch
and grows and grows and grows.
It is like sin--a little bit goes a long long way.
The people were covered with the blood of the lamb--
the Angel Passed Over--
and when they went into the promised land
they were supposed to be holy, blameless to the Lord.

So Jesus,
the perfect spotless lamb,
the only person ever to be holy and blameless to the Lord,
the perfect Israelite,
sits down to eat the passover with his friends.
And let's be honest,
all that fancy theological stuff we talked about on Sunday,
they weren't there.
They weren't overwhelmed by the divine nature of Jesus
and the human nature of Jesus
together perfectly in the one person of Jesus.
They weren't awe struck over how much he loved them
and how he had already done so much for them by being born
in the first place.
They were arguing over who was the greatest--
you can see in Luke 22:24.

If you've spent some time in the gospel of John,
you will know that besides doing the shocking thing
of washing the disciples' feet
John 13:4-5,
Jesus took the opportunity to preach a fairly long sermon
over the course of this meal.
The vine and the branches stuff in John 15
happens during the passover meal,
the I and the Father are one bits,
the love me as I have loved you.

I thought it rather helpful this last Sunday,
when all the children's Sunday School was downstairs
remembering this special meal together--
there were about 20 of us--
and it was quite an expanse between the top of the table,
where Jesus,
played by Joe Osgood,
was sitting,
and the bottom of the table where many of the disciples were sitting and talking to each other.
Once or twice Joe yelled out,
'I have something to say!'
and the crowd would sort of quiet,
although there was always some murmuring going on,
'one of you will betray me!'
he shouted down the table and a general uproar ensued--
who? me?
It helped me picture how a 'dispute could rise up amongst them'.
In a dinner that long,
with that many people,
its very much apparent how all the attendants could continue on
in their own little worlds,
thinking about their own little concerns
and their own little problems,
never noticing that so many things were going on.
I'm just going to quickly list just
some of the things that were happening.

One: The Passover Lamb, the true Passover Lamb, Jesus, was sitting there with them.

Two: He is also holy and blameless, the thing that Israel was supposed to be. He is standing in for Israel, doing what Israel never did.

Three: That he was in the form of a servant, he took on the lowest possible most disgusting most humiliating task of the meal, that is the washing of the feet.

Four: That as the Passover Lamb, the true sacrifice for sin, he has made his own body the means by which we come into the Promised Land, that is, eternal peace with God. That is, his blood poured out, for those who accept him, for those who trust in him, covers the post and lintel of your heart. When the angel of death passes by, he sees the blood of Jesus and passes by you, you are safe with God.

Now, can anyone tell me, in the Old Testament,
were the people of Israel allowed to eat anything with blood in it? Right, absolutely not.
When they killed any animal,
for a sacrifice or just to eat,
they were supposed to pour the blood out onto the ground
and eat the animal without any blood in it at all.
No blood sausage, well, no sausage, no blood cakes, none.
So, if the people of Israel really did follow this law,
they would have gone through their whole lives
eating various animals
but not the blood,
because, said God,
the blood is the life of the animal.

when Jesus holds up the cup and says,
'This is my blood, poured out for you, drink it'
his disciples,
besides being shocked out of their minds,
should have seen that he was going to be their life.
His body, the manna that came down from heaven,
his blood, both the guard against death over their heart,
and the life that would sustain them.

The fact that they are arguing about who is the greatest
magnifies how completely they did not get any of this.
One way you can know that the Bible is true
is that their complete lack of getting it is recorded
and preserved here for us.
If they wanted to make something like this up,
they would have added in that they were
1. paying attention and
2. getting it completely.

So, we're about to do all the things that Jesus just did--
we're about to wash feet, a sign of humility,
because Jesus told us to.
We're about to eat the bread and and drink the wine of communion as he told us to.
And I wouldn't be surprised if many of us might not get it,
or only understand part of it.
And, so you are not left up to the imaginations of your own hearts, I thought I'd list some ways you might miss the moment.

One way you might miss all that is going on here is if you have never been to church before. You may have heard Jesus' name and know that he was an awfully good person and that's it. If that's you this evening then there's only one thing for you to take away--
and that's that Jesus came to earth to take the burden of your sin,
to die in your place,
to offer you himself in exchange for you.
Its not a fair exchange,
but he loves you,
and he will give himself to you
if you give yourself to him.
If you've never done that before
and you don't even know what I'm talking about, please don't leave the building tonight without grabbing hold of me, or Matt or Ife or Carrie, she's up here in the front, and we can tell you more.

The second way you might miss it
is by being here for your whole life.
Familiarity, as the saying goes, can breed contempt.
The disciples' had been there for every word Jesus had spoken,
and here,
at the critical moment,
they have no idea what he is talking about.
If you've been here for years and years
hearing all the words
but never understanding them
or giving yourself to Jesus,
you have missed the point.

The third way is the problem Peter fell into. If you look at John vs. 6-9. First he's incredulous, then he says no, then he wants a bath. What is he doing? He's trying to control Jesus. He's trying to tell Jesus what to do and manage the whole event. It looks pious, but its a sign of both insecurity and pride--two sides of the same coin. Either way he's instead of giving himself to Jesus out of obedience and love he's keeping all the attention and focus and trying to manage the moment.

Fourth, you might miss what's going on by making a list of all the other people you think should hear this. No, take a good hard look at yourself.

In a moment we're going to get out some water,
and towels and you are all welcome to come up and have your feet washed.
You don't have to, please don't freak out.
But I have a word of caution.
When you come up,
let your body action of coming forward,
taking off your shoe,
putting your foot in the water,
let that body action reflect an action of the heart and mind
to let Jesus have access to all those things you're hiding from him. Are you angry?
Are you hurt?
Are you proud?
Are you ashamed?
Are you guilty?
Are you lazy?
Is there something you're not dealing with?
When you come up you need to give that thing to Jesus.
And then,
when you come forward for communion,
and you open your hands,
let that action of your body,
coming forward,
opening your hands,
let that also be an action of your heart and mind to take Jesus,
to cling to him,
to trust in him,
to love him.
So first,
even if you don't actually come forward for your feet to be washed, give yourself to Jesus--everything.
And then, when you come for communion, grasp hold of him.