In Between Times

John 18:33-37 – Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday – for Sunday, November 22, 2015

“Pilate went back into the palace. He summoned Jesus and asked, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’” (John 18:33)

IMG_3028Cold mornings now.

Fall has decided to stay. Though I write these opening words before dawn, when summer and winter are colored the same, I know a few feet beyond my window are exhausted leaves. Autumn’s arrival represents their departure. The deciduous leaves dazzle with reds, oranges, yellows, as if the trees were spark and flame. But in a few days or weeks I’ll be raking them into piles, less impressed with their last-gasp gaudiness.

Cold mornings now.

Not Wisconsin cold, where I once lived and shivered for winters that stretched to six months. In California, in its Central Valley, the cold is rarely arctic. But there were Novembers (and Aprils!) in America’s Dairyland when the winds chilling my street had started near the frozen top of our spinning planet. Cold in the Midwest meant watching breath crystallize. Here I shiver and shrug. But still I tightly bundle for my morning exercise. I complain. Whether walking or pedaling, I’ll stay reasonably warm. Continue reading →

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Hannah’s Apostrophe

I Samuel 1:4-20 – The 25th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, November 15, 2015

“Then she made this promise: ‘Lord of heavenly forces, just look at your servant’s pain and remember me! Don’t forget your servant! Give her a boy! Then I’ll give him to the Lord for his entire life . . .’” (I Samuel 1:11)

Hannah prays*
Hannah prays*

Tell me about Hannah’s place or time of birth. Tell me how or when she died. Tell me what happened to the woman also known as Samuel’s mother between her first and last breaths.

No response? Are you word-searching your digital Bible? Perhaps desperately Googling?

Indeed, my brief opening paragraph summarized the scant Biblical verses on Samuel’s mother. Punctuation-wise, the apostrophe between the “l” and the lower case “s” defined Hannah.

Not fair, you might protest. There are more apostrophes and details to her credit: Elkanah’s barren wife, Peninnah’s rival, believer, pray-er, promise-maker and a woman whose name means grace. Continue reading →

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No Boundaries, New Blessings

Ruth 3:1-15; 4:13-17 – The 24th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, November 8, 2015

“Ruth replied to her, ‘I’ll do everything you are telling me . . .” (Ruth 3:5)

Ruth and Naomi*
Ruth and Naomi

Once I thought differently about family.

Family was your parents and grandparents, siblings and second cousins; family was blood. It was where you were born. It was the accumulated generations of names, revered and scorned, all remembered when you gathered for the holy days. Family was place and time, us against them, common hopes and shameful failures, odd nicknames and secret recipes.

Until my daughter-in-law Ruth, I thought I knew what made a family real.

Call me Naomi, which in my language means “pleasant.” But I also call myself Mara, which means “bitter.”

For I have been bitter.

Death and I have been intimate. Continue reading →

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