Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday Five

1. Would you ever/have you ever stood in line for something--tickets, good deals on electronics, Tickle Me Elmo?

There are very few things I would wait in lines for (I have issues waiting in line; I have issues waiting in grocery lines sometimes). I would wait in line for tickets for a Jars of Clay concert. I have waited in line to get into Pro Player stadium to see Game 3 of the 2003 World Series game with the Yankees and the Marlins.

2. Do you enjoy shopping as a recreational activity?

Depends on what I'm shopping for. When I want to go out and do something, shopping is not high on the list of things to do, though if I need something I enjoy it.

3. Your favorite place to browse without necessarily buying anything.

Used book stores...or book stores in general. There's a great used bookstore - Chatham Booksellers - that's within walking distance of Drew.

4. Gift cards: handy gifts for the loved one who has everything, or cold impersonal symbol of all that is wrong in our culture?

Mixed reviews. I think gift cards are fine to get someone when you don't know what to get them, but for someone close to you I think it's a bit of a cop out. Gift cards to book stores or clothing stores, however, are perfectly acceptable.

5. Discuss the spiritual and theological issues inherent in people coming to blows over a Playstation 3.

Um, greed and our individualistic society being all about me, me, ME. I think it's sick and disgusting and demonstrates how far American culture has sunk morally and spiritually. That people think they need a PS3 that much...*sighs* It makes me sad. It goes with the whole mentality of "The one with the most toys wins" and the fact that people cannot seem to get pasty their own material existence to anything deeper and more meaningful.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Today's Mutts...


:-)

It's my birthday today! Woohoo! I'm thankful that I'm able to spend it at home with my family. My birthday dinner tonight? Homemade tacos, yum! I even made guacamole...though it didn't turn out well because the avacados weren't ripe. Oh well. I get a strawberry cake too, which is my favorite. My mother-in-law to be will be making me a cake too when I visit them on Friday for Thanksgiving with them.

Yeah - two Thanksgivings this year. One with my family on Thursday, and one with Ben's family on Friday. I think it's really nice that they switched days so that I could be there with them!

It's nice to be home and have a break from Drew, though there's lots to potentially blog about. Someday, I will write that post about why I love New England (and Maine in particular) more than New Jersey, and now I have Exploration to write about as well. (Lots of interesting things there, especially in reference to the ways that the UMC talks about calling and vocational discernment, and why contemporary worship is not my cup of tea but why it was good to have it there anyway).

Friday, November 17, 2006

I'm off...

...to Exploration 2006! This trip totally snuck up on me (as did Thanksgiving break), and it's hard for me to realize the next time I'm really back at Drew, there will be only two more weeks left of class. Two more weeks and oh-so much to do...

But anyhow, yesterday I was thankful for class being cancelled (the benefit of AAR!), and for getting my free turkey at Shoprite! w00t!

Today, I will do the repeat and be thankful for caffeine.

In other news, I plan on reading Peter Rollins' book on the plane. From what I heard from him, he's right on target with a lot of things that I value, like the theology of being able to stay in the same room together, or the idea that one becomes a Christian continually, and that notion of becoming Christian means becoming into our own more truthful existence. Like Wesley's notion of "going on to perfection" (though I can't take the credit for making that leap; a friend pointed out that connection in the course of conversation). I now have a signed copy of his book, and floating around between four of us is a copy of the ikon music CD. Rollins played a selection from it in the context of chapel service, and it was quite powerful, and I'm very interested in listening to the rest of it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Man, am I getting lazy.

Yesterday, I was thankful for being able to sleep in a bit and for being able to attend part of a class where Peter Rollins spoke. It was highly intriguing, and makes me want to read How (Not) to Speak of God even more now! Actually, one of the members of the class is giving me her copy of the book, which I am very thankful for as well.

Though Ben has it right now. :-P

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Whom do we serve?

“How many congregations believe they are in the ‘we exist for ourselves’ business rather than the ‘we are in mission to the community, even the world’ business? How many congregations confuse ‘the way we have done things for decades’ with the ‘larger apostolic purposes’? How many congregations mistake the means for the ends?” (Healthy Congregations, 70)

In my opinion, this is the most important problem facing the church today. It doesn’t matter where we stand on homosexuality, on gender issues, or anything else. If we exist to serve ourselves, set apart in our religious enclaves, then we are doing no one any good: not God, not the denomination, not ourselves, and certainly not our communities. It’s more than a matter of the church being the only institution that exists for those who are not a part of it (because that implies that our sole aim is to seek more members), but a matter of the church existing to transform our communities and the world.

(Note: I might have some of the details in this story wrong, but the general gist is the same) I remember my dad recently telling me this story about a cluster gathering he was at. They were talking about possibilities of reaching out to single mothers in the area. As he was telling me this story, I thought – great! Finally, the churches in our area getting out and doing something! But as he progressed, I became disheartened again. These clergy people were brainstorming some novel ideas: low cost or free day care centers, a support group, and volunteer after-school care, to name a few. He told me that all these ideas sounded great, but that he was the only one who suggested that they go out and actually talk to single mothers to see how the church could serve them. It bothered me that these clergy folk never came up with this simple idea of actually going out into the community to figure out what these people truly wanted, and instead imagined their need, and how the church could fix it.

I know it takes a lot to change this energy in the church. Most congregations have a social club mentality, and that’s not what the gospel is about. The gospel is about transforming lives, communities, nations, and the world. It isn’t about promoting a dogmatic message, or forcing people to come to church, but about service for no other purpose than to show God’s love. It’s about being with the people through their times of suffering. It’s in bringing about God’s kingdom, and that isn’t going to happen if we don’t go out into the world, talk to people, and serve them.

In short, I think most churches today, even if they pretend not to, actually exist and serve themselves.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

On Sunday I was thankful I didn't have a sinus infection. On Monday, I was thankful that my cold was (mostly) gone, and that I could venture into the city with friends for...

...wedding dress shopping!

Today, I am thankful for coffee (even though we didn't stay out late at all).

[EDIT: OK. I actually didn't have coffee today (though that doesn't mean I can't be thankful for it!) I actually managed the whole day (the whole, tiring, stressful day) without touching a drop of caffeine. Aren't you all proud of me?

On the flip side, it is now time for bed...after I read some Barth. Well, if Barth doesn't put me to sleep first. Good old Uncle Karl.]

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I just* got back from the health center; apparently I don't have a sinus infection! It's just...a cold. I'm supposed to drink lots of fluids, salt water gargle, take some ibuprofen for headaches if I get them, and sit tight. She discouraged me from taking too much decongestant (only when I need it), because it inhibits the drainage process or something like that. So I need to take it (relatively) easy and it should be completely gone in a couple of days.

I called my pastor yesterday, who was wonderfully sympathetic. I didn't come into church, and cancelled youth group. I seriously debated going ahead with youth group, but I don't want to infect people, and I should learn sometime to take care of myself better.

Everything is just about together in my new place. Went out for a quick Target trip to get some drugs (I had to get more today) and a card table so I have something I can eat on. Because of course, people who live in a commuter room (which this technically is) don't need to eat on anything. Bought some Draino today too because my sink is strongly clogged, and I've now got it down to a smaller clog. Enough so that I can actually wash dishes.

Nothing profound at the moment.

*by just, I mean a few hours ago.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Honestly, I didn't do much today aside from a bit of unpacking, napping, and whatnot. I got a lot of rest today, but my sinuses are still quite clogged. I went to the store and bought...

...nighttime cold medicine, which is what I'm thankful for today. I sure hope it helps me sleep, as anything would be better than the sleep I've gotten in the past couple of nights.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I have a big one here: Thank God for a New Apartment!

I was able to move this afternoon (even though I didn't think I was going to hear anything until Monday). Ben and I assembled a team, and got everything moved in about 3 hours (and I hadn't even packed anything either!) So another place to live is a huge blessing, as are the friends that helped me move.

Especially because...I'm still sick. I might have wiped myself out...but it is so worth it.

:-)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Today, I am sick. I have a head cold that is draining me of energy and causing me to constantly grab for the tissue box and down large quantities of diet ginger ale. Being sick makes me miss home, and Mom's chicken soup (which is oh-so-delicious). So, in honor of that, I am thankful for...

Mom! Who e-mailed me her chicken soup recipe (and allowed me to bother her in a meeting so I could figure out which ingredients I needed to purchase at the grocery store).

(I guess, by proxy, I'm thankful for Dad, who answered the phone at said meeting. ;-) )

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I’m going to take my own advice. This month, in preparation for Thanksgiving, I will be posting each day one thing that I am thankful for; one thing I believe God has blessed me with. I encourage you all to do the same, and please feel free to share with me (and with others) as well!

Today, I am thankful for friends who are willing to go above and beyond in order to help those who need it. I have been the recipient of such love, care, and support for the past couple of days from a couple of very dear friends, and it has alleviated some of the personal stresses I have been experiencing this entire semester. God has truly worked through them – just knowing that with them I have a safe and sacred relationship is wonderful and amazing.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Autumn Days...

Here is my first ever pastor's article for the Westwood Newsletter! It just came out, so I thought I would share it with you all.


I must confess – fall is my favorite season. I love the colors, the smells of pumpkin bread and hot apple cider, and (if I was in Maine) the mid-November flurries. I enjoy the autumn breezes that swirl the leaves around, and the cool, crisp air that promises winter will be here before we know it. Because of this, and for many other reasons, I love the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thanksgiving at my house tends to be a small affair, with immediate family and a few close friends. I enjoy being in a warm house with all sorts of delicious smells wafting from the kitchen, surrounded by people I care about. The fireplace is often crackling, and Mom has been baking and cooking all week. We eat a late turkey dinner, let the tryptophan kick in, and then Dad and I retire to the living room to watch the all-important Thanksgiving Day football games. Everything about that day makes me truly thankful for what God has given to me.

Nowadays, I think Thanksgiving is overlooked by our culture, getting lost in between Halloween and the December holiday season. Even though Halloween has just past, malls and department stores will be decking the halls and preparing for the Christmas holiday rush by pushing the latest toys, the bestseller books, the top CDs, and the must-have electronic devices. In this way, Thanksgiving becomes just a part of the countdown to the Christmas season; stores will have their “Thanksgiving Day Sales,” enticing consumers to kickoff the holiday shopping season the day after Thanksgiving. Even the crowning moment of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is Santa Claus, not Tom the Turkey.

While there is something to be said for getting into the holiday spirit early, I think the Thanksgiving holiday deserves more focus – particularly for us as Christians. It is a time to sit with loved ones and a time to reflect and be thankful. We gather as friends and family around the table to remind ourselves of the many blessings God has bestowed upon us. And it is also a time to remember those among us who are less fortunate, and to share what we have with them.

Thanksgiving not only affords us the opportunity to be thankful for what we have on that particular day, but also to take that thankfulness and carry it with us each and every day. So I invite you this month as we approach Thanksgiving Day to name one blessing you are thankful for each day. It could be a phone conversation with a friend, having your favorite food for dinner, spending a quiet evening at home, or watching your favorite sports team win a game. Whatever it is, name it, and offer it as a prayer of thanksgiving to God. Let this spirit of thankfulness be the way we prepare our hearts for the coming holiday season.

Grace and Peace,

Melissa

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My wet hiney...


Automatic toilets need to be banned. They waste water because they flush while you are still sitting on them (thus, requiring another flush). They vascillate between the extremes of not sensitive enough to movement (not flushing when you leave the stall), or too darn sensitive (thus giving your rear a second shower).

Gahhhhhh! Stupid toilets.

[EDIT: For those RevGal folks finding this post, I feel like I should have made this post more theological by using one of my fiance's favorite metaphors: Jesus as the heavenly toilet who flushes our sins away... :-)]