Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Greatest Christmas Story Ever Told: "Get the kid his peaches"


Here again, my friends, is the greatest Christmas story ever told by a great story teller, Al Martinez, formerly of the Oakland Tribune and Los Angeles Times. 

I run this story every year in Fiat Lux, and it brings a tear to my eye every time. Seems like maybe this year we could use this story a few days early. So here it is:



+ + +

A Christmas Story
By Al Martinez

IT happened one Christmas Eve a long time ago in a place called Oakland on a newspaper called the Tribune with a city editor named Alfred P. Reck.

I was working swing shift on general assignment, writing the story of a boy who was dying of leukemia and whose greatest wish was for fresh peaches.

It was a story which, in the tradition of 1950s journalism, would be milked for every sob we could squeeze from it, because everyone loved a good cry on Christmas.

We knew how to play a tear-jerker in those days, and I was full of the kinds of passions that could make a sailor weep.

I remember it was about 11 o'clock at night and pouring rain outside when I began putting the piece together for the next day's editions.

Deadline was an hour away, but an hour is a lifetime when you're young and fast and never get tired.

Then the telephone rang.

It was Al Reck calling, as he always did at night, and he'd had a few under his belt.

Reck was a drinking man. With diabetes and epilepsy, hard liquor was about the last thing he ought to be messing with, but you didn't tell Al what he ought to or ought not to do.

He was essentially a gentle man who rarely raised his voice, but you knew he was the city editor, and in those days the city editor was the law and the word in the newsroom.

But there was more than fear and tradition at work for Al.

We respected him immensely, not only for his abilities as a newsman, but for his humanity. Al was sensitive both to our needs and the needs of those whose names and faces appeared in the pages of the Oakland Tribune.

"What's up?" he asked me that Christmas Eve in a voice as soft and slurred as a summer breeze.

He already knew what was up because, during 25 years on the city desk, Reck somehow always knew what was up, but he wanted to hear it from the man handling the story.

I told him about the kid dying of leukemia and about the peaches and about how there simply were no fresh peaches, but it still made a good piece. We had art and a hole waiting on page one.

Al listened for a moment and then said, "How long's he got?"

"Not long," I said. "His doctor says maybe a day or two."

There was a long silence and then Al said, "Get the kid his peaches."

"I've called all over," I said. "None of the produce places in the Bay Area have fresh peaches. They're just plain out of season. It's winter."

"Not everywhere. Call Australia."

"Al," I began to argue, "it's after 11 and I have no idea . . .”

"Call Australia," he said, and then hung up.

If Al said call Australia, I would call Australia.

I don't quite remember whom I telephoned, newspapers maybe and agricultural associations, but I ended up finding fresh peaches and an airline that would fly them to the Bay Area before the end of Christmas Day.

There was only one problem. Customs wouldn't clear them. They were an agricultural product and would be hung up at San Francisco International at least for a day, and possibly forever.

Reck called again. He listened to the problem and told me to telephone the secretary of agriculture and have him clear the peaches when they arrived.

"It's close to midnight," I argued. "His office is closed."

"Take this number down," Reck said. "It's his home. Tell him I told you to call."

It was axiomatic among the admirers of Al Reck that he knew everyone and everyone knew him, from cops on the street to government leaders in their Georgetown estates. No one knew how Al knew them or why, but he did.

I made the call. The secretary said he'd have the peaches cleared when they arrived and give Al Reck his best.

"All right," Reck said on his third and final call to me, "now arrange for one of our photographers to meet the plane and take the peaches over to the boy's house."

He had been drinking steadily throughout the evening and the slurring had become almost impossible to understand.

By then it was a few minutes past midnight, and just a heartbeat and a half to the final deadline.

"Al," I said, "if I don't start writing this now I'll never get the story in the paper."

I won't forget this moment.

"I didn't say get the story," Reck replied gently. "I said get the kid his peaches."

If there is a flash point in our lives to which we can refer later, moments that shape our attitudes and affect our futures, that was mine.

Alfred Pierce Reck had defined for me the importance of what we do, lifting it beyond newsprint and deadline to a level of humanity that transcends job. He understood not only what we did but what we were supposed to do.

I didn't say get the story. I said get the kid his peaches.

The boy got his peaches and the story made the home edition, and I received a lesson in journalism more important than any I've learned since.

I wanted you to know that this Christmas season.

Al Martinez is a former reporter and columnist for The Oakland Tribune, from 1955 to 1971, The Richmond (Calif.) Independent and Los Angeles Times to now. Born in Oakland, he also has written several novels, for television and the movies. This article first appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 25, 1986.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Saturday Prayer vigil for shooting victims

Dear friends,

All of us are shocked and filled with sorrow at the shooting deaths at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday. I know that everyone in the St. Paul’s community is holding in our prayers all of those who have died, their families, and those who are caring for the injured and bereaved.

Our church is a place of prayer and refuge. We will have our doors open all day on Saturday for those who would like to come for prayer and reflection. We will hold a special evening prayer service on Saturday evening at 5:30 pm in the Chapel. If you can come, please join us.

 Rector Jim Richardson

  “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Monday Funnies Thanksgiving Week Edition

The world is a little nuts right now, and we need a few laughs. Here is a new cartoon from Dave Walker just in time for our cooking Thanksgiving Dinner at the church, and some really bad jokes for Thanksgiving from Pat Hill in the overbloated Jokester Department of Fiat Lux. Finally, look below this mess for a video that is, er, probably serious but laugh anyway. Enjoy your Thanksgiving week!

+ + +

An industrious turkey farmer was always experimenting with breeding, to perfect a better turkey.

His family was fond of the leg portion for dinner and there were never enough legs for everyone. After many frustrating attempts, the farmer was relating the results of his efforts to his friends at the general store get-together. "Well I finally did it! I bred a turkey that has 6 legs!"

They all asked the farmer how it tasted.

"I don't know" said the farmer. "I never could catch the darn thing!"

* * *

O, COME ALL YE TURKEYS

(Tune O Come All Ye Faithful)

O come all ye turkeys,
Fully dressed or boneless;
Come all ye Armor Stars,
This Thanksgiving day.
Come and be basted,
You will not be wasted;

Oh be our guest for dinner,
Oh be our guest for dinner,
Oh be our guest for dinner,
Thanksgiving Day.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Jesus saves, and the people on our doorstep

Sign on the roof of
the Church of the Open Door,
Los Angeles
Today's readings are 1 Samuel 2:1-10Psalm 16Hebrews 10:11-14 (15-18) 19-25Mark 13:1-8.

Here is my sermon for today:


+ + +


“My heart exults in the LORD; 
my strength is exalted in my God.” 
 -- From the Song of Hannah



Last Wednesday, as is our custom here at St. Paul’s, we had our community night dinner and fed everyone who came through our doors.

We had adult classes, showed a film, and the youth group went bowling. People prayed, they were fed, and had a little fun, and, we hope, they learned something.

It was a good evening – until the very end, when a young man in a hoodie asked me if he could sleep in the church. He said he had nowhere else to go.

I told him he couldn’t sleep here. I made sure he had something to eat, and let him stay inside until it came time to lock up.

It was too late for him to get to PACEM, the program whereby churches in our area take turns housing homeless people in the cold months. Our turn to host PACEM will come, but it wasn’t yet our night. I talked to this young man about how to get to PACEM the next night, and I haven’t seen him since.

I went home praying he would be OK, and feeling low and frustrated that I offered so little when the needs are so great all around us.

Could I have done better? Certainly.

Yet the truth is we see a great many homeless people regularly on our corner, and sometimes they sleep in our bushes.

We live in a deceptively bucolic community, but beneath the surface we have a great deal of poverty and homelessness right here.

You may not know this, but Charlottesville adopted a plan in 2009 to end homelessness by the year 2012. The plan had concrete steps, and a few have come to pass, like a low-income apartment house called the Crossings.

But very little else has happened with that plan.

And we still have people who arrive on our doorstep. If we are to truly claim to be followers of Jesus, then we here have a role, and we have just got to do better.

I want to take you to another place today, a place that in its own way gives me hope. Many years ago, when I was a news reporter, I carried a notebook into gritty neighborhoods where life is hard, and often violent and short.

One of the places I used to go is Skid Row in Los Angeles, where there is an old bleached-out boxy building, dating from 1935. On the roof is a big red neon sign that flashes “Jesus Saves.”

You can see that sign for miles.

I must admit, the sign has always entranced me, but also bothered me. Why would anyone who lives on Skid Row even believe it?

It may not seem very Episcopalian to talk about “Jesus saves” – and we certainly don’t like neon signs, and I am not putting one on the roof of this building, thank you.

Yet, that neon sign underlines an audacious claim by this Christian religion we practice:

“Jesus saves.”

It is up to us to make that sign real. Why? The Bible tells us so.

If you read the Bible closely, you will discover that most of the stories of God’s salvation are in this world, with real people in real places. Very few stories are about salvation in the next world.

The Bible and our prayer book, our baptism and our Eucharist, and the very words of the hymns we sing, all proclaim the very same thing:

Jesus saves – now, here, today.

So what does that mean?

Back up a little. Our religion is built on the idea that we follow a Jewish holy man who lived 2,000 years ago half a world away, in a place very, very different than Central Virginia.

He was no hippie, no Zen monk. He worked with his hands and he enjoyed a good meal and strong drink, and he could spin a good yarn.

But he could be quite harsh with his followers, and he did not shy away from telling them about the gritty realities of the world – and what they had to do to be his follower. Feed the hungry, heal the sick, turn the other cheek, give away your possessions.

Why would anyone follow this Jesus? Why would anyone claim he saves anyone? He could not even save himself from the Cross, as his detractors pointed out. Over the centuries, many have tried to explain why Jesus willingly goes to the Cross, and to be candid, some of those explanations fail.

We get one explanation today in the Letter to the Hebrews. The letter writer wants his listeners to believe that Jesus saves.

And he explains it with words that are strange to our ears, words about blood sacrifice and “curtains of flesh” – language that meant a great deal to people steeped in the ways of the Hebrew Temple.

The problem is that the language of blood offerings doesn’t resonate well in our own time, and, worse, is easily misunderstood.

Some have heard in these words the image of a bloodthirsty hateful God. If we take these images literally, as many do, we end up with a God who is satisfied only with death.

Is there another way to understand this?

I go back to the neon sign on Skid Row:

Jesus saves.

Jesus loves the world enough to experience everything we experience, even the pain and loss we suffer, and to live with us, especially in our hardest most perplexing moments. That is why he goes to the Cross, to be there with us – and not to satisfy some bloodthirsty deity.

He brings every ounce of his own divinity to be with us in the lowest places, to live on all the skid rows of this world.

In today’s gospel lesson from Mark, a passage laced with images of apocalypse, Jesus tells us wars and famines do come. Great buildings like the Temple will fall.

Yet Jesus offers us another way of seeing: look beyond the appearances, he says, because pain and hardship will fade into history, and I will be right here with you, and will never let you go no matter what.

But there is a challenge for us in this:

If, indeed, the Risen Christ is within us, then what are we doing to bring God’s dream of compassion alive here and now? How are we the hands of Christ?

Skid Row is right outside our doors some nights, and the weather is getting colder. It is up to us – all of us – to make real that Jesus saves. It is up to us – up to me – to do better.

But have heart: All will be made new, all will be blessed, and God’s dream of love and compassion is coming alive within you and around you – so have eyes to see and ears to hear – and hands and feet to act!

This is the faith of the ancients; we hear it echoing in the Song of Hannah, our Old Testament lesson for today:

“He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts up the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor.”

And this is the faith of people I’ve met on Skid Row:

Jesus does save, here, now. Today.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, peace in the Holy Land

From today's Daily Office reading. . .


Psalm 87


On the holy mountain stands the city he has founded; *
the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.

Glorious things are spoken of you, *
 O city of our God.

I count Egypt and Babylon among those who know me; * behold Philistia, Tyre, and Ethiopia: in Zion were they born.

Of Zion it shall be said, "Everyone was born in her, *
 and the Most High himself shall sustain her."

The LORD will record as he enrolls the peoples, *
 "These also were born there."

The singers and the dancers will say, *
 "All my fresh springs are in you."

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Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, peace in the Holy Land.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday Funnies

The weather is turning colder, and the week promises to have lots of news including the election. So we need a few grins. Here are some jokes from Pat Hill and the usual gang of loafers in the overpaid the Fiat Lux Jokester Department and a new cartoon from Dave Walker. Enjoy your week...

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An elderly man took his little grandson for a walk around the local cemetery. Pausing before one gravestone he said, "There lies a very honest man. He died owing me 50 dollars, but he struggled to the end to pay off his debts, and if anyone has gone to heaven, he has."

They walked on a bit further and then came to another grave. The old man pointed to the gravestone and said, "Now there's a different type of man altogether. He owed me 60 dollars and he died without ever trying to pay me back. If anyone has gone to hell, he has."

The little boy thought for a while and then said, "You know, Grandpa, you are very lucky."

"Why?" asked the old man in surprise.

"Well, whichever place you go to, you'll have some money to draw on."

* * *

An angel suddenly appears at a faculty meeting and tells the dean of the college that, in return for his unselfish and exemplary behavior, he will be given his choice of infinite wealth, wisdom or beauty. All he need do is pick one.

Without hesitating, the dean selects infinite wisdom.

"Done!" says the angel, and disappears in a cloud of smoke and a bolt of lightning.

Now, all heads turn toward the dean, who sits surrounded by a faint halo of light. At length, one of his colleagues whispers, "Say something wise."

The dean looks at them and says, "I should have taken the money."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Loss of power

From our friend Barbara Crafton in New Jersey...


SOME OF OUR POWER


I think of them whenever our electricity goes off -- the generations of human beings for whom this was the way life was, people who rose with the sun and slept with the moon. People whose houses were always cold in winter. People who could not read at night unless by candlight. They far outnumber us: electrification is a newcomer to human experience.

At times like this, I long to see them. I sit by the fire with a shawl covering my legs and another my shoulders, and I worry about their attire: if it was this chilly, how on earth did the women endure the d├ęcolletage we know characterized their dress in Jane Austen's time? How did the men of the 18th century endure knee pants? Or might we have imagined the whole thing, egged on by the hyperactive imaginations of their portraitists and our filmmakers? No, we did not: some of their clothing remains. You can visit it in museums.

Their great-grandchildren queue up anxiously to buy matches, for water in bottles, for ice in bags, fretting about the endangered contents of our freezers. We dread the absence of our electrical genie before it occurs, calling and texting each other about the impending disaster. Have you lost power yet? What about your mom? Does she have power?

"Power," we call it. We have no power. This is our third day without power. As if the departure of electricity were the loss of all our power. It is not. It is the loss of SOME of our power, not all of it.

We were almost out of bread before the hurricane hit, and our oven is electric. This was the opportunity for which I've been waiting for years: the chance to test a contention of my grandmother's that has always seemed nonsensical to me. She never liked the newfangled stove my mother had. You can't control the fire, she would fume, like you can in a wood stove.

What?!? The stove of my childhood was primitive indeed by today's standards, but it had dials with exact temperatures on them.

No, no, she insisted. It doesn't get hot fast enough and you can't adjust it fast enough. Wood is so much easier.

In memory of her, then, as well as out of necessity, I decided to bake our bread in the fireplace. I banked hot coals up around my iron pot and put the lid on, leaving it there to get really hot. Then in went the bread and back went the lid. My internal dialogue with my grandmother began:

Me: This won't work. It's a waste of good flour. There are no temperature gauges.

My Grandmother: Yes it will. People who couldn't even read have been baking bread like this for thousands of years.

Me: Maybe I need to bake it longer? How will I know?

My Grandmother: Trial and error. That's basically how we know everything.

Half an hour into the baking, I removed the lid and looked at the loaf, expecting something pasty and unappetizingly pale. But no: it was brown and gorgeous -- browner, in fact, than it is at this stage in my fabulous new oven. Hmmmn.

In fifteen minutes, it was done. It looked wonderful. I sliced off the heel when it had cooled. I don't really eat bread any more, but this was an emergency. I had an argument with my dead grandmother to win.

Damned if the woman wasn't right. It was good. Better than in my new oven? I'm not sure. I'd better have another slice.

Copyright © 2001-2012 Barbara Crafton - all rights reserved

The Geranium Farm

Friday, November 2, 2012

Remembering All Souls Day, those who are departed and the light in our lives

Please join us today at 12:15 pm for our Holy Eucharist when we will read the names of those who have died who are close to us.

Photo by Mark Beach

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Prayers in the wake of Hurricane Sandy; help with Episcopal Relief and Development

The morning after Hurricane Sandy in Central Virginia, photo from my front porch:



 "By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us 
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, 
to guide our feet into the way of peace."  -- Luke 1:78-29

Pray for those who have died, are left homeless, who mourn, who are without power or clean water, here in the U.S. and in the Caribbean:


You can help by donating today to Episcopal Relief and Development by clicking HERE.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Monday Funnies -- Hurricane Sandy Edition

We haven't had the Monday Funnies in awhile -- my apologies! What better day to laugh than when a hurricane is bearing down on us.

Hope you are hunkered down, safe and dry. Here are some groaners at the expense of organized religion from Pat Hill in the overpaid, overstaffed deadbeat Jokester Department of Fiat Lux, and a new cartoon from Dave Walker showing an aerial view of the St. Paul's Memorial Church parish hall.

Enjoy your Monday as best you can!


+ + +

One Sunday the Pastor announced, "Now, before we pass the collection plate, I would like to request that the person who stole the chickens from Brother Martin's hen house please refrain from giving any money to the Lord. The Lord doesn't want money from a thief!"

The collection plate was passed around, and for the first time in months everybody gave.

* * * 
Little Johnny was in church when the wine and wafers were passed out. His mother leaned over and told him that he was not old enough to partake in the Communion.

When the offering plate was passed around she leaned over once again to tell him to drop his money in, but Little Johhny held his dollar firmly in his hand, loudly stating, "If I can't eat, I won't pay!"

* * * 
A young minister and Mr. Smith, an elderly parishioner, were playing golf. The minister's game was off and the old man was beating him rather soundly.

At the end of the game, the Mr. Smith tried to console his minister by saying, "don't worry, Reverend. One of these days you'll be burying me."

"Yes," sighed the minister, "but even then, it will be your hole!"

* * * 
We were painting the church steeple grey, 
When the wind blew our brushes away. 
We said to the pastor, "We've had a disaster!" 
He calmly replied, "Let us spray."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The power of words

My friend Mildred sent this to me. It is worth a couple of minutes of your time:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

UVA TODAY: Women’s Economic Empowerment Groups Change Life in Rural Kenya


In Kenya’s Kitui District, home to a million people, Janet Mumo is the only woman ever known to ride a motorcycle. She must, she said, to reach her rural constituents.
Mumo will visit the University of Virginia on Oct. 18 to give a talk on "Transforming Lives: Community-Based Development in Kenya" in Minor Hall’s auditorium. A reception will follow. The event, which begins at 5 p.m., is hosted by the U.Va. Women's Center.
She is the founder and director of the Kitui Development Center in southeastern Kenya. Its mission is to build leadership in village women, who then improve the quality of life for those suffering from severe drought, famine and other effects of poverty. In just one Kitui program, Mumo works with 1,753 women who feed 7,400 children.
Their strategy: Women pool their small resources to buy seeds, goats and chickens; start small businesses; and use their aggregate income to provide school fees, schools, medicine, clean water and more for their children and their communities.
One past project involved helping women get started in planting and harvesting sunflowers, along with beekeeping. The sunflowers provide bees with nectar, and they produce more honey. The sunflowers also provide edible oil to the community, and the sunflower seedcake is used as animal feed.
To respond to the many children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic, the center strengthens the agricultural self-sufficiency of rural village families, who feed scores of orphans and care for them in their homes. Mumo’s center does not provide money, but teaches a wide variety of skills to rural Kenyan women, who then work in small groups to transform lives. Other projects focus on water, health and positive youth development. The women are especially determined that their female children, as well as their young boys, are allowed to go to school – a privilege most of them were denied, said Sharon Davie, who directs the Women’s Center and is writing about women’s programs in Kenya.
Full of energy, with an unflagging sense of humor and a deep belief in human potential, Mumo – the only woman on the Kitui Town Council – has been recognized in Kenya and internationally for her strategic approach to community-based development.
Her visit is co-sponsored by the Women, Gender and Sexuality program in the College of Arts & Sciences, the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies and the African Development Project at St. Paul’s Memorial Church.
The event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP should be sent by Oct. 15 to Bri Goode atwcevents@eservices.virginia.edu.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Walk and Be Well

I am signing up for this, and hope you will too. And it's free! Brought to you by The Episcopal Church's Credo program . . .



Introducing a new Walking Program from CREDO
Jesus spent much of his ministry walking. From town to town across Galilee, Samaria and Judea, he walked and talked, in the company of his disciples, his followers and God.
CREDO's Walk and Be Well offers a way to follow Jesus both in words and action, with a walking program attuned to both body and soul. For four weeks beginning October 1, CREDO will provide daily Walk and Be Well reflections in both text and audio that can motivate, encourage and educate you on the benefits of walking and help you commit to 28 days devoted to better wellness. You'll begin your daily walk with a reflection from one of three CREDO writers and faculty members: Jackie Cameron, Elizabeth Moosbrugger and Bill Watson. Each writer starts and finishes his or her reflection with the same scriptural anchors, but along the way approaches walking from a unique perspective. The entire series weaves together a broad and holistic look at health and wellness.
Reflections can be downloaded as podcasts, streamed from the CREDO website and printed as PDFs; use them while walking solely or share them with your walking partner or group. And if you would like to receive your daily reflection by email, just sign up below and we will send it to you in the early morning.

Walk and Be Well begins on September 30, with an introduction from Jackie Cameron. October 1 begins the walking days, which continue through October 28, then Jackie offers a concluding reflection on October 29. The distance and pace is up to you. Walk and Be Well is your opportunity to join other CREDO participants, whether they're in your area or they live far away, in committing to four weeks of walking as a benefit to your physical and spiritual health and well-being.
For those on Facebook who would like to discuss the Walk and Be Well experience and the daily reflections, CREDOwalk is an open Facebook group. Come on over.


Sign up today.

 

Join CREDO Walk and Be Well
There are a couple of steps to start or change your CREDO profile,
which help protect you against SPAM.
The simple process starts with your email address below.
Email:  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Join us to meet the "Nun on the bus"

This Sunday, it gives me great pleasure to bring my dear old friend, Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, to St. Paul's. She will be preaching at the 8 am and 10 am worship services and taking questions at an adult forum at 11:30 am.

Sister Simone, who is a nun in the order of the Sisters of Social Service, is best known as the Executive Director of NETWORK, a Catholic organization that lobbies on economic and social justice issues.

She has become well-known as one of the targets of a Vatican crackdown on American nuns who Rome believes are too eager to disagree with church teachings on sexuality and gender while overemphasizing church teachings on social justice.

Come hear her side.

Sister Simone has been the public face of the “nuns on the bus” who toured the country this summer to draw attention to federal budget proposals that, in the view of the nuns, would harm the poor. She is also an attorney, and represented low-income people for 18 years in California, where she founded a community-based law center. She is fluent in Spanish, and is an accomplished poet.

Shortly before our war with Iraq in 2003, she traveled to Baghdad with several of her sisters to draw attention to the Christians who still lived there and to give witness that warfare was not the best way to solve our conflict with Saddam Hussein. She wrote quite a bit of poetry on that trip, and I leave you with one today:

INCARNATION 
Let gratitude be the beat of our heart,
pounding Baghdad rhythms, circulating
memories, meaning of the journey.

Let resolve flow in our veins,
fueled by Basra’s destitution, risking
reflective action in a fifteen-second world.

Let compassion be our hands,
reaching to be with each other,
all others to touch, hold heal this fractured world.

Let wisdom be our feet,
bringing us to the crying need
to friends or foe to share this body’s blood.

Let love be our eyes,
that we might see the beauty, see the dream
lurking in the shadows of despair and dread.

Let community be our body warmth,
radiating Arab energy to welcome in the foreign
stranger—even the ones who wage this war.

Let us remember on drear distant days,
we are a promised Christmas joy
we live as one this tragic gifted life—

We are the Body of God!

Simone Campbell, SSS

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Images to calm your soul

Here is a time-lapsed film I ran across today that might give you a few minutes of calm in your day. And perhaps a few images that might evoke the beauty and awesomeness of God's creation. Here is the film, and below that, an explanation of what you are seeing:


This film of the Pacific Northwest took over a year of work, 260,000 images, and 6.3 terabytes of hard drive space, by photographer John Eklund. For more about it, click HERE. Eklund's website can be found HERE.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Monday Funnies are back!

It has been much, much too long since we've run the Monday Funnies. What, with the election season and all that, we need some laughs.

Pat Hill in the Fiat Lux Jokester Department has been hard at work coming up with jokes, when he is not goldbricking by gazing at the sky look for the space shuttle (see his brilliant film below).

Here's a few groaners (blame Pat) and a church sign of the week to your right. Enjoy your Monday and the rest of the week.

+ + + 

The minister had just finished an excellent chicken dinner at the home of a member of his congregation. Sitting on the porch after dinner he saw a rooster come strutting through the yard. "That's certainly a proud-looking rooster you have there," the minister commented.

"Yes sir," replied the farmer. "He has reason to be proud, one of his sons just entered the ministry!"

+ + +

George went to the eye doctor for an examination because he was having trouble reading the newspaper.

"Now that you are over 40," the doctor told him, "you've developed a condition called presbyopia, in which the lens of your eye can no longer focus as well as it used to."

Seeing his worried look, the doctor tried to be upbeat. "Congratulations!" he said. "You're now officially a presbyope!"

George leaned over and asked seriously, "Does this mean I can no longer be a Southern Baptist?"

+ + +

One beautiful Sunday morning, a pastor announced to his congregation: "My good people, I have here in my hands three sermons...a $100 sermon that lasts five minutes, a $50 sermon that lasts fifteen minutes, and a $10 sermon that lasts a full hour.

"Now, we'll take the collection and see which one I'll deliver."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Did Jesus have a wife?

You may have seen the news reports about the discovery of a fragment of Egyptian papyrus from the 4th century. The papyrus, written Coptic, mentions Jesus's "wife."

Does that mean Jesus had a wife? Maybe, maybe not.

It does mean that Egyptian Coptic Christians, living 300 to 400 years after the time of Jesus, knew of the idea that Jesus had a wife, though it is unclear what is meant by "wife." Is the term "wife"  a reference to marriage between a man and woman, or is it a metaphorical term? The Church was sometimes referred to as the "bride of Christ."

The Washington Post has a very good column by a Fordham University professor on the topic, and I re-post here for you:

Posted at 01:02 PM ET, 09/21/2012

“Jesus’ wife”: Nothing to fear, something to learn