Friday, February 15, 2008


I had a dream about the Archangel Michael last night. You'll be happy to know that he is very handsome in a rugged, Middle-eastern kind of way and he has an Alaskan Husky that he walks by a lake filled with clouds.

No wings, though. At least not in my dream.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A writing challenge

The pipe organ at our church is going to be included on a tour of fine pipe organs in our town. One of the members of our congregation is part of the planning team for this tour and asked me to be sure to include an announcement in this week's bulletin highlighting this tour and the fact that it is open to the public.

Ahem. Do you realize how tricky it is to compose a paragraph including the words "organ" "member" "largest" "demonstration" and "tour" and make it sound like something that belongs in a church bulletin rather than, say, an e-mail spam offer??

I'm just sayin. . . .

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A New Era Begins

Well--"era" may be too dramatic a word for it. But this week our new,called Associate Pastor begins his work with us and our Interim Associate wraps up loose ends and departs for new things. Good stuff, but as with any transition there will be some twists and turns to negoitiate.

Here is where you all could be helpful in sharing your wisdom--around two of those twists particularly:

1) So far, both the Associates I've worked with here have been female and older than me. Our new Associate is male and younger. There isn't a lot of collective wisdom out there yet about the female head of staff/ younger male associate relationship. Any of you worked in that model in either role? What wisdom would you pass along?

2)Our new Associate is coming to us after having been a solo pastor for a while. I know Besomami and Listing Straight have recently made that move--maybe some of the rest of you as well. Again--any wisdom to share on how to make that transistion a good one?

Also, be aware that after the great blog discovery controversy,I shared my own blogging identity with my new colleague, so there's a good chance we'll both be reading your responses!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Justice, Grace and Meatballs

The phone rang while we were eating dinner Saturday night.

"Pastor Rebel? This is Martha. I'm here at church. In the kitchen. We're getting the food ready for the reception after tonight's concert."

Uh huh.. .

"Well, Norm and Nancy made some meatballs and brought them down here this morning because they can't be here tonight."

Uh huh . . .

"And the League of Women Voters was here this afternoon making the food for their event tonight and now they are gone and the meatballs are missing."

Ah!!! You think they may have taken our meatballs by mistake?

"Yes! I'm sure they did! Do you know where they were taking their food?"

No. Not exactly. I just remember that they wanted to use our kitchen because the place they are having their event tonight only allows their official caterer to use their kitchen to prepare food.

(At this point I can hear animated conversation in the background . . .)

"Thanks! Jean knows where that is. We'll figure this out. Bye!"

Thirty minutes later, I arrive at church myself. I check in with the folks in the kitchen to see what has transpired vis a vis the meatballs.

"We've got them! Martha went up to Special Events House and grabbed them out of the warming oven. And look! The pan even had this note taped to it! (For Concert Reception 2/9) How could they have missed that?????"

My kids and I beat a hasty retreat from the kitchen to the church courtyard where we bust out laughing.

"Mom," says my son. "You have to work this into your sermon tomorrow."

Well, I don't know . . .

"No, really. What are you preaching about?"

The story about how Jesus was tempted in the wilderness.

"Perfect! Those ladies were tempted to take our meatballs!!!"

No--they weren't tempted. They just made a mistake. They thought the meatballs belonged to them.

"Well. Okay. But I still think you could use it."

Actually, if I were ever to use this story in a sermon, I would use it as an illustration of the difference between justice and grace. The just thing to do was march down to the community center and demand our meatballs back. The gracious thing to do would have been to let the League ladies enjoy them with our blessing.

AFter hearing me re-tell this story to my colleague Sunday morning, my daughter observed, "Mom--you really have to blog about this."

Now THAT I can do.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Brushes with Fame

I've lived in southern California for nearly two years now, but had never been to Hollywood. My sister's visit provided the excuse, so last Thursday I took the day off work and we set out. We booked ourselves a walking tour of the Hollywood district, but arrived an hour early due to some really lucky breaks with Metrolink and MTA. We decided to amble down Hollywood Boulevard and look for place to have coffee.

As approached Fredericks of Hollywood, we noted that people were gathering at barricades set up in front of the store. There was a platform with a microphone set up near the entrance. We bellied up to the barricade and asked the guy standing near us, "So--what are we waiting for?"

"Suzanne Pleshette is getting a star on the Walk of Fame," he answered. Sure enough, as we stood and waited people began arriving on the OTHER side of the barricade. Marcia Wallace, who played Carol the receptionist on the Bob Newheart Show, Peter Bonerez, who played Jerry the orthodontist, Jack Riley, who played one of Bob Hartley's regular clients--and other folks not connected to the show, but who must have been friends of the late Ms. Pleshette: Arte Johnson, Tina Sinatra, Peter Marshall, and Dick Van Dyke. There were some other folks who looked vaguely familiar but who we couldn't name right off. (Those of you who've been reading a while may remember that this is my second encounter with Dick Van Dyke in less than 12 months. It's because he's Presbyterian, I'm sure. That Calvinist vibe draws him into my orbit.)

"Why isn't Bob Newheart here?" my sister wondered.
"Oh--I'll bet he'll swoop in with a big flourish right before the ceremony," I answered.

Yup. In due course a shiny car drove up and out popped the Big Guy himself. We had to sneak away just after the ceremony began because it was time for us to meet our tour.

During the walking tour, which was mildly interesting, we couldn't help but notice that there was a Big Commotion going on in front of the Kodak Theater.

"Oh yeah! The debates! Are those today?" we asked each other.

They sure were! We planted ourselves on a balconly two floors above street level and watched the festivities for nearly two hours. We had a great view of the CNN tent and watched Wolf Blizter chat with just about everybody, including the mayor of Los Angeles. We were hoping, hoping that maybe Barak and Hillary themselves might show up, but they must have sneaked them in a secret door somewhere. When we saw the barracades going down and the police leaving, we figured those two must already be safe inside the building--so we went home.

So, that was my brush with fame for the year. Whew!