We have a Lent/Easter symbols card game to play in second grade Sunday School. We were looking at the one that had the crown of thorns on it. I said, “look at that, wouldn’t it hurt to wear that on your head?” Amanda said, “Not if he had poofy hair like you, Miss Erin.”

Selling Bunnies

December 7, 2008

rabbitIt was Heifer Project market day today and my second graders agreed to sell the bunnies.  The first 45 minutes they were not so into it.  They wanted to color their coloring sheets and stick the pins in each other, not to mention eat cookies and spill lemonade on themselves.  But when the 9:45 service let out and the fellowship hall started filling they suddenly got excited about the marketing of the bunnies.  Hannah was our barker.   She shouted “Hop on over and buy a bunny” solid for that whole fifteen minutes.  Her mom came over to pick her up, she said “but she’s so shy.”  And when we’d get a potential costumer Mira would dutifully tell them that one bunny costs $20, half a bunny is $10, and a forth a bunny is $5.  And Corrine set out decorating the table.  She made a hat for our stuffed rabbit that said “I’m a bunny” and hung a sign around his neck that said “Bunnies Rock.”  And the whole class rallied around handing out our material and doing a little bunny dance.  The kindergateners had chicken costumes and chicken favors, the middle schoolers had cupcakes with candy bees, but we were the hit of the market.  Everyone was eatting up my little sales people.  I was so proud.  Hey, does anyone want to buy a bunny?

Directory woes

November 18, 2008

See when I went in to have my portrait taken for the church directory I was envisioning something like this…

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But I folded… I told myself I’d ask for a straight-on standing picture, but… but the guy was telling me how I looked like Drew Barrymore, so I thought he must be an expert right?  So he took all my shots 3/4 to the camera and siting.  Meaning my pictures came out more like this…

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Now I realize that some people may want their boobs to look as big as possible in their photos, but some of us don’t need the help.

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Whatever.

Apparently I care

November 16, 2008

We were talking about war and peace in or series on “Virtue in Public Life” in Everyothers tonight.   The series is based on some of the social principles of the United Methodist Church.  The Book of Discipline is annoyingly wishy-washy on the issue. We got on this track of talking about how certain wars are justifiable.  I had to civilly disagree.  So I started talking about what Jesus says about loving your enemies and self sacrifice.  I didn’t feel it, but people told me that I looked like I was going to cry.  See, my head cares about a lot of things that don’t necessarily inspire me with passion and feeling.  But some times I surprise myself.  I guess my heart cares too.

Sunday Quotation: “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:27-31, NIV

I forgot to say that our young adult group won the “Best Christian Theme” at the Trunk or Treat last Sunday.  Our decor was the leftover VBS surf boards that said “Be Kind” and “Be Bold” and “Believe.”  But I got extra points for coming up with the title of our installation… “Saint Paul’s Spring Break.”

My weekend at the church

October 26, 2008

I spent more time at church this weekend than I did at home or at least that’s what it feels like.  On Friday and Saturday I was pedaling my wares at the craft fair.  I did about as much business as I did last year.  But besides just the bracelets I sold one scarf, the tutu I made, and one of the ribbon necklaces, and two pairs of the watermelon earrings.  I decided I was going to reduce my prices from last year hoping to be more attractive so I did, by about 33 percent on everything that I had there last year.  But I think that the plan did not work.  I guess there’s like this tipping point where you are willing to buy something just because it’s a good deal, but beyond that if your price is reasonable people just decide if they want it or not. I have this magnet that I got which is cute but that I got mainly because it was a dollar fifty. But I also got this wall hanging for my mom that was no deal for sure but it was so perfect that I could not let it go.

This morning was Laity Sunday again so I got to help lead worship again this year.  I was much less nervous.  And I also got to do the children’s sermon.  That was too much fun; I loved it. I had a couple of laugh lines even.  And the preschool choir sang so we had a bunch of takers.  I think next time I am going to pay more attention to my tone of voice because I found myself talking in that “I’m talking to a kid voice.”  I also think that I needed to engage with the kids a little more.  I was a little over eager about getting the word out that I neglected to look and see if I was getting a reaction and that the kids were understanding.  But over all good and practice makes perfect, right?  Luckily I remembered to do all my parts this year.  And I got lots of compliments on the prayer that I wrote.  So I thought I’d give you all an excerpt.

“…and we also give thanks on this special Sunday for the ministry of the laity.  Those who respond to God’s call on all Christians’ lives, who choose to take time to offer God’s love in action through teaching and speaking and singing and witnessing and serving. Today we ask you to renew us all, to give us a clearer vision of the ways we can give sacrificially.  Help us to leave what is comfortable to meet you challenge.  Let us be the voice of peace in a warring world.  Let us be the ones who are generous even in difficulty.  Let us be a welcoming face to the stranger.  We ask this all in true sincerity and with the confidence of children of the Lord of the universe. Our God who created all things from the tiniest bacteria to the greatest mountain.  Who continues to do great works even in our own lives and will still be comforting and protecting our great-great-great grandchildren….”

My favorite story… apparently one of our medical doctors appreciated the fact that bacteria got a shout out in church.  Happy to oblige.

Pieces of her story

October 18, 2008

I had two errands today.  To go get some jalapenos and to mail a few things that I didn’t put out in time for the mail carrier to come get.  I planned to drive through Sonic after the post office for a vanilla coke with a side of jalapenos (homemade salsa is addictive.)

So I got to the post office a couple minutes after it closed and had to go through that drive through too.  That of course meant that that I missed the last pickup too so my mail run was for naught.  But there was this woman standing on the curb by the post office exit. She’d been standing there the whole time I was in the parking lot and had a carry-on size piece of luggage.

I pulled up to turn on to the street and she looked at me and held up the sign she had in here hand.  It was written on ballpoint on a sheet of loose leaf.  The wind was strong enough that the paper was flapping so that the only thing that I could read was “for food.”  It’s getting cooler but I’m still wearing shorts and she had on a winter coat.  She looked like she could be someones grandma.

So I decided I’d go to CVS instead of Sonic and pick-up some trail mix for her along with my jalapenos.  When I pulled back around she was gone from the post office.  And then I looked around and she was sitting on the window sill at the convenience store next door, with her coat on her bag, smoking a cigarette. I didn’t stop.

Thing is, I don’t know what she really needs, or what the right thing is to do. Maybe I’ll hold on to the cranberry trail mix so I’ll have a better plan next time.  And I don’t mean that “dang, I was dooped and now I’m stuck with the cranberries.”  But she is a person, with a life, and a family, and a story and obviously a difficult one at that.  And I can’t do anything that will make a real difference, or not be patronizing.  Or maybe it is that I’m unwilling to.  All I have is the fragments that I gleaned from observation of this women, nothing that tells me anything about who she really is.

—————-

Stephanie had the youth do an exercise a few weeks ago.  They all started by making bags to give to the homeless with a granola bar and a Vienna sausage and an apple sauce.  They then had a scavenger hunt to look for their dinner.  Everywhere they went they were turned away until they found the homeless bags that they had made waiting for them in the sanctuary.  And man did they not like that twist.  Apparently not everyone like Vienna sausages like I do.  But it’s obviously no grand gesture to give away the food you’re not willing to eat.  It humbles you a little, and makes you think about person-hood apart from status and possessions.  So even though I got to be the one denying my spaghetti to the youth, I think I learned a lesson too.  Because today I felt a little something extra. And it wasn’t good.  I think that’s called empathy. And praise God for that.

Erin is not a musician

October 7, 2008

This fact became painfully clear when I tried to sub in handbell choir last night.  People usually get to play four bells and I got demoted to one.  Its a bit like dancing but you have to count your own measures. It was painful.

I think that it was the perfect storm of church jobs today.  And happy World Communion Sunday to you too.

We were singing in honor of the day, a fun African piece.  But that also meant that we had to be there to rehearse at 7:45.  My helping began when Laurel brought her grandchildren in, a four year old and a two year.  She is like 98 pounds and was trying to lift them both up on to her hip. But the little one kept sliding of.  So I when to give her a boost and she burst into tears when I put my arms out to her. Ouch, burned by the two year old.

After we were done practicing Sally asked us to help move the left over garage sale junk off the parking lot.  So there I am in my insensibly high heels and a-line skirt, carting nineteen fifties vacuums and knitting kits, and humidifiers across the lot.  We sang for the call to worship then I left to set up for Sunday School.  There was plenty of time left so I got to make copies and cut out shields for the coat-of-arms craft.  But I left my curriculum at home so I had to wing it a little.  By the way it is very confusing to a second grader that Abraham was once named Abrahm and that Abraham was not named after Abraham Lincoln.  They even asked “what does Abraham mean?” Well luck has it the Bible tells us that it means “the father of many.”  My favorite thing… we were putting pictures of ancient buildings on the map and I told them that the first one was a Ziggarat.  The next one was these domed buildings…Amanda says, “oh, it’s an Egg-arat.”

Had to leave early to sing again.  Then I got asked to be a “pew buddy” by our childrens’ director. There’s no childrens’ Sunday School during the eleven o’clock hour so the kids whose parents go to the contemporary service and then 11 adult class, go to the regular Sunday School and then sit with volunteers during the 11 service before childrens’ church (wow that’s a mess.)  We didn’t have many takers today but Grace came to sit with us and she was having some nose running issues, but I didn’t have any tissues or anything, I felt so inadequate.

Before the service started Sally asked if I’d do part of the “presenting of the breads” which involved reading a paragraph… mine was about sun-dried tomato bread.  I think I only stumbled on a few words sheesh. I think I told God to remember that there was waring in the middle east.  Um I think God’s all over that, we’re the ones that need to remember.  We got to the communion part of the World Communion Sunday and we were singing the opening song and Clarke and Sally were looking distressed.  The sent out one of the acolytes to get me to help serve communion.  I think that at the 8:30 service they had a retired minister helping but he must have bailed.

The highlights… Me trying to grab the bread dish, Clarke “I’m serving you.” Oh yeah…  Me being the last one done every time because the line is “The blood of Christ shed for you.” and saying that to everyone takes longer than the minister version that is many more sentences and covers the time it take to serve three or four people. This must be why they need a master’s degree… My designated acolyte tripping and spilling a whole tray of juice on the floor and her white gown…  Me running out of juice cups with one person left, making me take even longer, and generally interrupting the reverent service with my inability to count… Oh yes and remember the high heels…ouch, and we are all glad I went with my crew neck black shirt instead of the v-neck if you know what I mean….And we don’t have hymns going on so you just feel everyone watching your communion incompetence.  I obviously needed the training session.

Justice in Tallahassee

September 10, 2008

We had a great lesson at Everyothers that got us thinking about our responsibility to justice. Here’s my letter to our group.

Hey Guys, I’m excited that you all are interested in knowing more about TEAM, the ecumenical justice ministry at Saint Paul’s.

The idea behind the ministry is to use our people power to insist on the fair treatment and protection of human rights and civil liberties for the voiceless and powerless.  TEAM is a joint effort of about 20 faith congregations across Tallahassee.  Each year 4 or 5 committees work on the issues that are suggested and voted on by the congregations.  This year we have Health Care, Education, Affordable Housing, and Energy/ Environment.  The committees work for about six months to come up with specific issues that need addressing (things that will have broad support and are winnable.)  And then they work with officials toward solutions.  Then every year at the “Nehemiah Action” all of the congregations gather and the  officials are asked to publicly commit to the solutions that we ask for.

Some examples… the county commission agreed to support health care at the current funding levels despite budget cuts.  The school board and superintendent agreed to pilot two new programs including providing staff for family involvement and alternatives to out of school suspension.  This year I’ve been working on the affordable housing committee to improve and support a rehab program for substandard rental units.

What do we need from you? Come to the rally on September 22. You’ll hear about the issues, have worship together, and get ready for the action.  It starts at 7 and is at Faith Presbyterian (just up the road from us on Meridian.)

And we are asking everyone to bring 3 people with them to the NEHEMIAH ACTION on October 20 at 6:45. This is really the place to turn out numbers to say that we mean business.  It will be at Bradfordville First Baptist (by the Target on North Thomasville Road.  And we are trying to do some carpooling for that.  Parking will be tight for both events so get there nice and early if you don’t come with the group.

Will you consider making a firm commitment to come to these two meeting and to bring people with you in October?  When people say “maybe” and “I’ll try” they usually neglect to follow through.  So we are trying to get a list of who will defiantly be there (or if this is something that you care about and you can’t be there find someone to go in your place.)

I’d be happy to answer any questions that you have or you can check out the website. http://www.teamtally.org/

Let me know if you are coming and I’ll follow up with you in the next few weeks.