Now that marriage equality has come to Illinois, I've been asked "why Iowa?" Well, for one, we made this decision before the Illinois house passed the bill: I had already paid for the hotel rooms and the car. Also, we would still have to wait until until the Illinois law went into effect in June.
But we climb a step every day
Here's what I have to say:
I'm not the cook. Mary is so awesome at this that I'm pretty much afraid to offer anything in the kitchen: it pales next to her gifts for food. So this is just about what I like - and I'm as picky an eater as any 5 year old.
For today's Friday Five, write about five experiences you have had being in the middle. It will be interesting to see how many different ways we see the middle in our lives.
- When I was a child, we had a pickup truck - not one of those modern "crew cab" or "club cab" pickups - just a pickup truck with a bench seat. I remember riding in that truck: dad to the left, mom to the right, my brother John and I on the seat between them, and a large fawn Great Dane named Bozo standing on the floor in front of us. It doesn't get much more in the middle than that.
- Though it took 14 years part time to get my undergraduate and masters in divinity - about which my employers were fully aware - the week after I graduated, the president of the company asked me "you're not going to leave us, are you?" I found myself in the space between a company that wanted me to stay and a calling that drew me elsewhere.
I'm still in that space, by the way.
- My spouse backs me up unconditionally. It's difficult that I can't do the same. When she has a disagreement with someone at church, I tend to look at both sides, and it appears I don't care enough about her. She realizes how hard that is for me, but I know it still hurts her when I see the disagreement from both perspectives.
- I've mentioned this before, but: search and call. Having expanded my search to other states, I may end up selling the house. What do I invest in staying here, if I could have to leave and sell the house short?
- In the United Church of Christ, one is not ordained until one is called to a church. Having finished seminary and being approved by an ecclesiastical council, I'm in a middle space too. Many of my rejection e-mails come to Reverend Knox, though that title doesn't apply quite yet. I'm on the edge of ordained ministry - but boundaries are also middles.
A relative of mine - we'll call her Doris - was totally devoted to her husband - so much so, that she rose well before her husband to shower, dress, do her hair and makeup, and make breakfast for him.
Her husband was eventually diagnosed with cancer, and he spent his last weeks at home, Doris caring for him as he lay in what would be his deathbed.
After her husband died, Doris had no idea what to do. Her whole life had been built around one man, and now she didn't even know who she was.
Today's reading in Luke is also about a widow - but perhaps also about husbands. In Levitical law, a man was forbidden to marry his brother's widow. But - in a practice called Levirate Marriage - if his brother died without having a son, the man was required to marry the widow. Any sons from this union would be considered sons of the first husband, thereby carrying on the line.
In fact, modern prohibitions against masturbation and contraception stem from a story about this kind of relationship. In Genesis 38, we read that Judah took a wife named Tamar for his firstborn son Er. When Er died without a son, Judah told his next son, Onan, to take Tamar as a wife and bear sons with him. But Onan purposely did not impregnate Tamar (read the story in the Bible for the details), and died. What was once a story about not carrying out one's duty turned into a prohibition against any kind of sexual practice that doesn't produce children.
But for the Sadducees, who don't believe in the resurrection, this kind of relationship was very important. If you don't believe in the resurrection, the only way to immortality is through male offspring. So a man who dies without a son needs this practice in order for his line to survive.
Note that there's no provision for the widow to have any say in this. However, there is a benefit to the widow: single women didn't fare well in this culture - she couldn't open a dress shop, or go back to school to become a social worker, or become senator, run for president, and then become secretary of state. A woman without a father, husband, or son to take care of her faced prostitution, destitution, and starvation.
Now I doubt the Sadducees were referring to the concern for creating heirs - surely they're not going to ask "in the resurrection, who is going to give this woman a son?" After all, if the first brother is resurrected, he doesn't need an heir.
No, I think they were asking which brother would have the responsibility to the widow. They think they have Jesus trapped, because whether he says "the first brother," or "the last brother," or "there are seven days in a week, the brothers can take turns," the crowd is probably going to be unhappy with the answer.
But Jesus says "Silly Sadducees, the resurrection is not like this world."
- What's up? How are you?
I'm in search and call so... having to live on faith day by day, and it's hard. My employers know I'm looking, and so are anxiously awaiting news of what kind of call I get (they're hoping for part time so they can keep me). I've opened the search up to other states, so I don't know how much to invest in staying in this house vs. being willing to give it up. So much of my future is unknown that it's difficult for me to make any plans.
Also, I'm doing pulpit supply at my home church this Sunday and am part of the team behind a retreat next Tuesday and Wednesday.
Yeah, there's a lot going on.
If you were a Panda Bear that could speakO.k., even that is too random for me. You are moving to a new office. You can only take five books with you (pretend there is no thing such as kindle, nook, etc.). What would they be BESIDES teh Bible, which is already written on your hearts, yes?
I'd bring Isaac Asimov's Guide to the Bible, Georgia Harkness's Understanding Christian Faith, Heidi Neumark's Breathing Space, We Were Baptized Too (Alexander and Preston), and The Confessions of Saint Augustine.
- If you had a superpower that could give you a five hour retreat, and you could go anywhere in the world to spend those five hours on retreat (because you have superpowers, ya' know?), where would you go?
The grassy shore of a small lake, away from cars and boats and people, in a place where it's warm and sunny that day.
- What piece of music, song, hymn, etc. are you diggin' right now?
REM's "Talk About the Passion" keeps coming up for me - in my head, and when I pick up the guitar.
- Use the following words in a sentence (or two): Tangle, dribble, hook, Panda, shark, smile, worry, island.
With a dribble of soy from the Panda Express leftovers oozing on the table, I tried to smile as I dealt the with tangle of fishing line tied to the hook we would use to catch the shark that had begin to worry the people of the island.
This is way outside my comfort zone.
List five super powers that you use in your vocational life. This isn't bragging. It's naming the light that shines from your lamp stand.
I'm calling this one out because I've heard it said about me repeatedly and recently, especially from people who are outside the church. I've seen this happen when doing my clinical pastoral education, I've seen this at my day job (as a software developer/tech support person), and with friends online: people seem to be comfortable coming to me with problems and concerns. Heck, it even happens a lot with strangers.
I never considered myself a great writer, but other people have said very positive things about my writing, so maybe that's the important point. It's not so much how happy I am transmitting the words as it is how well people are able to receive them. If I wrote only for myself, it would be mere diary keeping.
OK, I'm not the world's greatest preacher. I'm not going to win awards, and I'm probably never going to present at the Festival of Homiletics. Perhaps in part because of the way I write, my sermons seem to be understandable. People are able to talk to me about "that sermon you did on..." from over a year ago. I've had people tell me that they took something from a sermon and applied it to their lives, and it helped.
So it seems I do well enough at preaching. Maybe it's not a super power, but I seem to be gifted enough to get the job done.
- Being open-minded.
OK, I do have some kryptonite in this area: people who are very judgmental and/or punitive weaken this super power. But for the most part, I'm able to meet people where they are and walk with them on their journeys of faith without demanding they follow my roadmap. That may contribute to my approachability up there at number 1.
- Looking at things from a different perspective.
I generally try to see things with different lenses, and to use a different approach to situations than what most people are used to. For example: when the lectionary served up Ruth, I preached about Naomi, because I thought people don't talk enough about Naomi.