The Fox and the Hen

February 27, 2010

Sounds like an Aesop’s Fable, doesn’t it? Yesterday Sr. Wantabee led a Bible study with her little ole people on Luke 13:31-35, where Jesus cries over Jerusalem. Jesus is warned by the Pharisees that Herod wants to kill him and he turns to them and says, “Tell that Fox….” and then he turns and gives one of his famous soliloquies, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I longed to gather you under my wings as a hen gathers her chicks….” What do we have here? Jesus crying, Herod the Fox, and God the Hen! Wait one moment, you might say. When is the hen ever the hero in a story? Didn’t Henny Penny lead her friends astray into the den of Foxy Loxy when she thought the sky was falling? Being “chicken” is not an adjective we aspire to! So what is going on here. Let’s dig deeper.

Why do we cry? The people answered, sadness, fear, pain, loneliness. Yes! There is a discrepancy between what is and what we know could be. Tears respond to death, to danger, to injustice, to abandonment..all of the above because we know it is not right. Jesus cries over Jerusalem because Foxy Loxy is leading them and not a Hen who wants to gather them under her wings. Hmmm. Read the rest of this entry »

The Science Man

February 25, 2010

I met a man today.
It was in his bed he lay.

“Science explains the facts,”
said he, as he lay upon his back.
I look for what a man might see.
“No spirit world does impact me!”

Are you really then an Agnostic by name?
Is that the way you play life’s game?
You look upon a world torn by strife
Think that man can live a good life?

“For sure,” he said, “I hang my head.

Man left to self, lives in the red!”

You look about the age I am.
I thought that Star Trek was oh so grand.
Life forms that live in other ways
On other plants far from our craze.
I saw one episode based on nitrogen,
These rock people could not swim.
And yet they loved their little ones,
And fought to save them from the guns.
So cute, so sweet,
and yet a life form we do not meet.
Could God be a bit like that,
A form of life, not a word we pull from our hat?

The man was not oh so impressed
He turned and said he felt distress
“My wife of 41 years, you see,
Had a stroke and recovered miraculously.”
He did give it a thought or two
“What would I do if that were not true?”

Sr. Wantabee looked at him
And said, through trying not to grin.
41 years of relationship
That is something not to rip.
And yet you see not the love that comes.
You see not the relationship forms.
It’s there and in between
Just like God who is not seen.
She turned and left him with a grin.
Perhaps she’ll never speak to him.
But deep inside she knew the truth.
God is here, not on the roof!

Sr. Elizabeth Fedde

February 25, 2010

Today Sr. Wantabee was reminded in chapel at Luther that she is walking in the footsteps of Sr. Elizabeth Fedde who came to the United States as a Deaconess from Norway about 1850. Tomorrow is the day when the church remembers her. She was called to work with Norwegian sailers in Brooklyn, NY, who were sick and did not know English. She started a hospital that was the first responder to 911, by the way, and soon had a Sunday school going and other projects. On her vacation, she was asked to start a hospital in Minneapolis in a house donated by a businessman and she gathered some sisters to do that. That was her vacation. And, oh yes, she started an orphanage in Iowa too. Back in NY, she realized she needed to create an ambulance and so bargained with a company that was going electric and got a horse and designed a carriage and painted it white. In a time when women were assigned to the kitchen and having children, she approached the state of NY for funds for her hospital. She worked in the United States for 12 years. What have you done in the last 12 years to help those less fortunate than yourself?

I Saw Love Yesterday

February 20, 2010

Sr. Wantabee was wheeling two wheel chairs with elders around the corner from the auditorium to the elevator to return them to their rooms. As she rounded the corner she saw a woman, perhaps 85 years old, sitting on a couch. She was a typical little ole lady with curly, permed hair, overweight face with deep set eyes and a rolly polly body. In a wheel chair next to her sat the little old man from the nursing Home.

He was memorable because his hands were frozen in an eternal fist. He weighs perhaps 300 lbs but faithfully attends church. Of course it is necessary to ask him if he wants a bulletin and he always says no because he cannot hold it. She was not sure he could even read but surely he must.

As Sr. Wantabee rounded the corner, he reached out his frozen fist to touch her hand. “Do you still love me?” she asked. “Of course I do,” he gently replied. “Why would I stop loving you?” She giggled and responded, “Well, I talk too much.” He held her hand in his frozen fist, smiled into her eyes with his toothless smile and said, “I will always love you.” She beamed her love back to him.

Medal/Metal of Honor

February 19, 2010

A little lady with redish hair and painted eyebrows beamed up at Sr. Wantabee as she entered the room. “May I enter?” Of course she replied. It is late afternoon, the day is long, and a change of pace is welcome. “I see you have a fractured hip. You fell?” Oh no, she shared. Her right knee has been replaced twice, her left knee once, and then her hip last Fall but then something happened and it just broke. “Oh my, the airport system will start beeping, just seeing you coming?” We laughed.

Gradually her story came out. After working as a secretary/dental assistant for 35 years she retired early and they bought 100 acres north of the city and it had a log cabin. Her husband had hoped to restore it but ended up selling it but her three kids and six grandkids loved coming to the homestead to ski, hunt, resort. Her husband, five years older than she, was a carpenter and loved the challenge of building their dream house with bedrooms upstairs. Their small town church provided community and they are happy.

At 71 she will have been married 50 years in October. She commented, “I deserve a medal of honor don’t I!” Sr. Wantabee replied, “Heavens, no, then you’d really set off the airport machines. Go for something nonmetalic.” We had another good laugh.

Driving home Sr. Wantabee reflected on how odd it is that our security systems can identify metal but not medal. The machine that finds the bad guys also pin points the good guys who have served our society and their family. It is hard to tell the difference between “saint” and “sinner” and often we misjudge by appearances.


February 19, 2010

You would notice this man in any room. He’s probably in his 80’s, possibly 90’s, but that is not distinguishing. His whole face is eclipsed by his nose. He has a huge snozzle that is hawk-like, almost cartoonish. Perhaps it would not look so noticeable if he had teeth but he does not. A little slot, not unlike an ATM machine rests under his nostrils.

The first time I met him, I was assisting the chaplain do communion. She stopped by his wheelchair, after a nod that he wanted to partake, she took a wafer, small, white, dry, dipped it in the juice and slid it in the slot for a mouth. Not unlike my ATM card, it slid right out. His tongue had not grasped it. She slid it in again. It slid out again. And so the routine continued until his tongue grabbed the wafer and there it sat to dissolve.

Wednesday, Ash Wednesday that is, he received the ashes on his forehead and then we weaved our way through the wheel chairs giving communion. Mr. ATM nodded agreement. Into the slot went the crumpled wafer and out it came. The chaplain had moved on so I pushed the reluctant wafer into his mouth a second time and moved on. Sure enough, afterwards on the way back from the elevator from delivering residents to be carried to their floor, I ran into Mr. ATM and the wafer was dangling from his lips. I removed the soggy thing and wondered.

Had the machine read enough of the information on the ATM card to receive the blessing? We believe it is not the saintliness of the giver nor the saintliness of the receiver that makes communion effective. It is God’s word working through the elements. I hope the word is enough for Mr. ATM and his malfunctioning receiver.

Soul Food or Food for the Soul?

February 15, 2010

Are you hungry?
On a scale of 1 to 10 reflect. 1 means “You betcha!” 10 means “Skip me this round.”

Number from 1-5 what feeds your soul:
Radio and music______________________
A cup of _____with a friend____________
A walk in nature_______________________
Read a good book_____________________
A night on the town___________________

African Americans had it right. When we are hungry, our spirits need food. It does not need to be fancy and expensive. In fact, home cooked with love often serves best.

“The way to a person’s heart is through the stomach.”
The way to my heart is______________________________.

Ashes to Ashes

February 15, 2010

What to share in the Memory Care Unit Chaplain’s Corner this morning? Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent so I decided to share about “ashes.”

I took in a small glass bowl from my kitchen cupboard and wore a cross that I don’t usually wear. I announced that I was going to talk about these two symbols – ashes and the cross. A new lady who was sitting up front said in a stage whisper, audible to the whole room, “I don’t believe in that bunk!” Meanwhile the aid came in to claim men for haircuts! As we settled again I acknowledged her cynicism.

Putting ashes on our heads is not a recent practice that started with Christians, I had learned that morning.   Read the rest of this entry »

Bed 22 Update

February 15, 2010

Bed 22 taught me appreciation for life. Yesterday he passed. Today the unit was different.Dino was there looking to talk along with Jane who I haven’t told you about and many others but life was different. I didn’t walk down the hall. I stayed in the main area chatting with people.

Bed 22 not only reflected on his hard life with appreciation and suddenly hummed parts of tunes like “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” in the middle of a conversation, he was appreciative for the opportunities in his street life to walk into a Catholic church and drop $5 in the box. “Pretty nice, huh?” he’d say.

A woman took him in later in life and loved him. I am unclear on whether they were married or not and I think that is my hang up because I don’t think those were issues for them. But she got him going back to church and he loved her. The greatest honor in his life was walking with her the 15 years that cancer slowly ate away her body.

Yes, I learned appreciation from bed 22 and I am appreciative that I knew him. He was a blessing to me.

Transfiguration – Transformation – Metamorphize

February 15, 2010

My Second Sermon
Today I got to preach my second sermon ever and the first in over a year. It was on the Mt. of Transfiguration. This text found in Luke always falls on the Sunday between Epiphany (the part of the church year that talks about Jesus’ life as a teacher, healer, leader and the beginning of the Lent season that starts on Wednesday with Ash Wednesday when we start focusing on the death of Christ.) Jesus tells his disciples he is going to die and rise and they don’t understand. He withdraws to the mountain to pray with Peter, James, and John. This is not an uncommon custom of his before a big event and is very similar to the Garden of Gethsemane. On the Mt. of Transfiguration, he is joined by Moses and Elijah to encourage him. At Gethsemane he is joined by angels. In both cases the disciples are sleepy.

Why Moses and Elijah? Could it be that Jesus as True Man and True God is being encouraged this Sunday as True Man? Two men join him who have remarkably similar stories to Jesus in three ways.

Moses is backed up to the Red Sea after leaving Egypt with his motley crew of Israelites when the Pharoah and his armies with chariots attack and the people turn to Moses and do a complete turnabout. Where there not enough graves in Egypt that you brought us out here to die? Jesus at the cross will have the government washing their hands of him and the crowd yelling “crucify him!” He will stand alone. Elijah on the other hand, believing himself to be the last remaining true prophet calls for a showdown between himself and the prophets of Baal and Asherah of Jezebel and Ahab. Whoever’s God burns the sacrificed cow is the real God. The people are quiet as they will go with the winning side. Bring on the show. Elijah stands alone. Perhaps Moses and Elijah could both encourage the Son of Man that God majors in dealing with impossible situations.

Moses had to turn his life’s work over to Joshua. Elijah, thinking he is the last prophet is told by God to anoint Elisha. Both men had to turn over their work and Jesus was about to turn over his work to his motley crew of disciples. Pretty scary.

Thirdly, Jesus was turning towards death. The Son of Man and most people experience some fear. Moses at his death was walked up to the mountain by God, shown the Promised Land and then God himself laid Moses to rest and buried him, no one knows where. Elijah bade farewell to the different school of prophets and then crossed the river when the chariots of fire swept him into a new reality.

Up on the mountain, Jesus transfigures in that his clothes are dazzling white but he also emerges to face the cross. No one could see the difference, but I think the difference was there. If he understands all our feelings then he knows the panic of facing the impossible, the dread of turning over our work to someone else, and the pondering of facing death.

In the face of a transistion, he withdrew for prayer, went with friends and was strengthened by friends, and headed into the change. May you know that God is always with you in your fears and your transitions.