mainestewards

August 3, 2013

Hiatus

Filed under: Children and Families,Lectionary,Social Gospel,Stewardship of the Environment — by Lisa Meeder Turnbull @ 8:48 pm

I can’t put it off any longer. It’s Saturday night. I have to face this week’s readings.

I’ve put off writing for so long because I really enjoyed my hiatus, my month away from my desk, my month of getting out of my head and into Martha time. It started with the fulfillment of a cherished fantasy: I rented a dumpster. The family thought I was joking. I had been threatening since winter that our vacation this year would consist of a week at home with a dumpster. It turned out to be a month. And it was great.

First went the obvious stuff: The broken down sofa, the vacuum cleaner that made scary smoke smells, the off-cuts of plywood and random chunks of insulation from walling-in the upstairs of the barn. We were having fun, and feeling very freed.

As we moved into the finer layers of our various rooms, the pace slowed. It wasn’t that our energy was waning, far from it. It was our engagement in the process. We began to offer one another quiet gifts of time and presence. I first noticed it when I pulled out two big boxes of old photographs. I began to sort through them, tossing some into a trash box and others into a keep pile. Before long Robert started reaching into the trash box, retrieving things, asking questions, encouraging me to keep more than I really wanted. Mallory curled herself up beside me. She wanted to hear about pieces of my life so far removed in time and space; she drew out stories of people long dead or estranged.

One was a picture of my great-aunt Elsie, the patron whose voice had been my constant companion through the purge, her wise and gentle voice saying, “We keep things for a certain amount of time.” I remember her saying that to my mother, and I take comfort in its permission, both permission to keep and permission to toss. In one simple phrase, Aunt Elsie taught me the essence of stewardship.

Last Monday the dumpster was rolled off. Four cubic yards of junk…three packed carloads to the thrift shop…four trips to the recycling center…and priceless time with my family and its artifacts. It felt good.

It was in that lighter state of mind that I returned to my desk this week. After a month of sorting, tossing, donating, scrubbing, clearing, shop-vaccing, and power-washing, I returned to life inside my head. As I moved back into the more familiar Mary mode, I was greeted by a lectionary reading from Ecclesiastes:

Pointless. It’s all a pointless waste of time. Whoever buys your house is just going to change everything any way. Your paint job might help you sell the house, but after that, who cares? And when you die? She’s never going to remember which stories go with which heirlooms; she probably won’t even keep most of them. No matter how carefully you provide for her, at some point she’s going to cash out her trust fund and live her own life. It’s all pointless.

You can understand why I’ve put off writing….

How do I reconcile the words of Ecclesiastes with the stewardship of abundance? Where’s the good news? I followed Jesus’ advice to the rich young ruler—I got rid of all the clutter, all the stuff that was clogging my life and getting in the way of my family’s wholeness. I gave anything usable to a thrift shop ministry that serves an impoverished rural area, with the proceeds supporting the vicar’s care for individuals in crisis. I recycled the materials that can be reused to tread a bit more gently on the resources of creation. How could it all have been in vain?

The answer, of course and as always, lies in our baptism. Through baptism, we are called to live not just as stewards of our stuff, but as stewards of one another. We are called to care for one another’s hopes, and dreams, and prayers…and memories, and stories, and artifacts.

The fellowship of family time and the passing of wisdom and memory across generations is just as spiritually formative at home as it is at church. The early church, after, broke its bread in homes, around the tables of its members. And what better way to live out Christ’s teachings by word and example than to sit with my child while she sorts her own belongings for donation, nurturing her love of neighbor and care for those in need?

In the end, it’s a both/and: The new homeowners will undo a fair chunk of my work. Mallory will consign a fair chunk of my belongings when they pass into her care. In the meantime, however, I am the steward of so many good gifts—tangible and intangible—in this time, and in this place. That’s where I find the good news this week: Whether it matters or not, it matters to me.

For that I am truly thankful.

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June 13, 2013

Flat-Out Mission

Have you met Flat Stanley[i]? If there’s an early elementary student within your orbit, you’ve probably been asked to include Stanley in a family event, take him on vacation, or share in one of his adventures…and take lots of photos along the way. For those of us who have not had the pleasure of his company, here’s a little background:

He’s a perfectly normal boy until one morning he wakes up flat. After his parents peel the incriminating bulletin board off of him, Stanley must adjust to life as a pancake. Ending up four feet tall, a foot wide, and half-an-inch thick, Stanley discovers that being flat is not only novel (he can slip under cracks), but also exciting. He is mailed off to California in a large envelope; he can be flown like a huge kite; and one night, disguised as a shepherdess, he hides in a painting in the art museum and foils some thieves.[ii]

Earlier this week I found out that in the Diocese of Texas, Flat Andy (a cutout of Bishop Andy Doyle) travels with members of Christ Church Cathedral, helping them stay in touch with one another over the summer. This sparked an idea: How could Flat Saints help our congregations engage in mission and ministry, get to know one another better, improve communication, and bring a little fun to our lives?

How might Flat Patrons bring to life what Wayne Scwaab describes as “member mission”:

We know about “congregational missions” at church or under the church’s “banner.”  Beyond church, the other kind of mission work begins. “Member missions” are what church members do daily on their own at home, at work, in their communities, in the wider world, during their leisure, and for their spiritual health, as well as what they do in their church’s life and its outreach. Since the members go everywhere in the world each day, what they do can have far greater impact on the world than what they do together as church.

We share in God’s mission by what we do and by what we say. We draw on our church life and each other for the support, the guidance, and the power we need to do God’s work.[iii]

So here’s what I’m imagining as a mash-up of Flat Stanley and Member Mission:

Provide each member of your congregation with a cutout of your parish’s patron saint on a piece of cardstock—and be sure to put a printable pdf of same on your website for seasonal members, others who might want to participate, and fellow lay leaders who might want to steal the idea. Encourage people to include Flat Patron in their baptismal lives and make provisions to share and celebrate their ministries in real time on a church bulletin board and a photo gallery on your congregation’s web site. For something like a youth mission trip, your Flat Patron could even tweet the highlights of the day!

It might take a little a time for people to warm up to the idea that “the stuff I just do because I do it” is in fact ministry. But once it catches on, once people start to look at their every day lives through a baptismal lens, I predict that Flat Patron will be very busy.

Before you know it, Flat Mary will join the Little League team for ice cream. Flat John will be sewing Quilts for Valor while Flat Andrew poses for a picture outside the local prison. Flat Ambrose will tweet from the finish line of the walk for mental health awareness and Flat James will share his week as a camp counselor.

As we continuously discover and rediscover our baptisms, we will get to know one another in our Monday-through-Saturday dimensions, enriching the fabric of our Sunday communion. Newcomers will have a user-friendly way of getting to know the life of the congregation and make connections with individual members. (Be sure to include Flat Patron in your newcomer welcome packet—it’s a meaningful invitation and a great ice breaker!)

So is anybody up for trying it? So far I’ve only thought it through on the congregational level, but how much fun would it be to gather up a slide show for diocesan convention showing the incredible breadth of member mission among all our congregations? How cool would it be for a confirmation class to use this as a vehicle for engaging the vows they are preparing to make in their own voice? How might a regional fellowship that meets only a few times a year use their own Flat Saint to stay in touch, or to catch up when they reconvene?

The possibilities are endless—I can’t wait to hear your stories!


[i] Brown, Jeff. Flat Stanley: His Original Adventure. Harper Collins (reprint edition), 2009.

[ii] Amazon.com, Flat Stanley: His Original Adventure

[iii] Membermission.org

May 9, 2013

Heaven Can Wait

“I wish I could go to heaven. I don’t want to die; I just want to see what it’s like and then come back. I wish people could go to heaven without dying.”

The good news was that my five-year-old didn’t want to die. The more urgent concern was that her mother had to think of a response.

“Well, you know Sweetie, there are stories in the Bible about people who went to heaven without their bodies dying in the way that we think of dying. It’s called ascending.”

Really? Now we’re on to something. How does one go about it? Could Charles Branson add this to his long-range plan for Virgin Galactic? We know the bishop; could she help?

“But it’s pretty rare. In the whole history of people we only know of three who have done it. Remember when I told you that after he was on the cross, Jesus died for three days, and then he came back and spent some time with his friends, comforting them and helping them know what to do next? Well, when he was done with that part he ascended.”

Of course she wanted to know who the other two were. (Why do I talk myself into these corners?) Elijah for sure. Who was the third? Moses? Possibly—all we know was that his body was never found. Or was it Enoch? I don’t remember…and her attention span has expired anyway.

So many years later, this conversation stays with me. I revisit it on this Ascension Day to ask, If I could go to heaven without dying and then come back, would I want to?

Remember Plato’s allegory of the cave? A small family group has lived their entire lives in a primitive cave, their backs to opening so that all they can see are the shadows of things, playing on the back wall of the cave like a puppet show from the street above.

What would happen if they were to leave the cave. What would it be like for them to discover that everything they know about the world is but shadow? And once they had discovered the light and color and vibrancy of the real world, could they be content going back into the cave? Having seen face-to-face, could they settle for a mirror dimly?

Which brings me back to the question: If I could go to heaven without dying and then come back, would I want to?

Could I stand to just for a moment join my voice with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven, singing and proclaiming the glory of God’s name, then return to the life I love?

I’ve decided on “no.” I prefer to be a steward of the here and now, to delight in all that is, seen and unseen. Our pleasure in what God has created, our discernment of how God would have us be in this time and in this place, are calls to stewardship as surely as our commitment to tithe or our practice of the baptismal vows. God delights in the joy I take in my family, in exploring new places, discovery the little nooks and crannies of the Earth. God wants me to love every minute of this life, to use my talents as a good and faithful servant.

I live into the assurance that the life of the world to come will come…in due time.

Today, heaven can wait.

March 28, 2013

Feet, or Hands?

As we gather this evening to observe Maundy Thursday, many of us will be invited to participate in the ritual of foot-washing. For some, our feet will be washed by our parish priest. For others, we will engage in serving one another, having our feet washed by the person in front of us, and then in turn washing the feet of the person behind us.

For me, the latter practice is the more meaningful. It reinforces for me that in being sealed as Christ’s own, we are bound together in a web of mutual servanthood. I hold within the moment when I sat while a student who had suffered a sports injury laid aside his crutches, carefully knelt to support himself on his good knee while he lowered the more painful one, took my feet, and carefully washed them. His commitment was palpable; his determination to participate beyond his physical discomfort was a gift.

As he rose and offered me his hand, I carried his gift of servanthood with me as I in turn moved onto my knees and carefully took into my hands the foot of an elderly professor. One by one, our servanthood in relationship with one another accumulated, snowballed, grew to fill the chapel as we received and gave of our selves, one by one.

I have become aware in recent years that for some congregations the practice is instead to wash one another’s hands.

I confess that I scoffed when I first heard of this: No, foot washing is not convenient. It’s not easy. It’s messy. That’s the point! I look down my nose at people who think it’s OK to “just do our hands instead” because they don’t want to go through all the hassle of taking off their shoes. They don’t want to expose their feet. They don’t want to get water all over the place and have to clean it up.

My second reaction was a scornful, “And besides, doesn’t this turn us all into Pilate?” How can we possibly justify moving from the deepest symbolic act that Jesus purposely engaged to set an example for his followers—not just the 12 who were gathered, but all his followers across time and space forever and ever amen—to an equally powerful symbolic act of dismissal?

But now I’m having second thoughts.

Maybe there’s something to this hand washing thing, this Pilate thing.

What if we were to approach this as a moment of truth-telling? What if we could take a hard look at ourselves and admit that we all too often do wash our hands of it, whatever “it” may be….

…I wish we had better health care for everyone, but what can I do? It is what it is.

…I hate seeing so many people come to the end of their unemployment benefits, but what can I do? At least we support the food pantry.

…I know that child is in a bad situation, but my hands are tied.

…There must be a more sustainable solution, but how would it work?

Perhaps there is value in confronting those Pilate moments that challenge our baptism in everyday life. I don’t mean this as a guilt trip (though it could certainly be a big one!). Rather, I am pondering the possibilities, wondering what sparks of commitment, what seeds of ministry might come from admitting that in many ways we weren’t there when they crucified our Lord.

How might we engage hand washing not as a convenient substitute for the messy work of foot washing, but as an invitation to transformation?

March 21, 2013

…and also with you

Filed under: Leadership,Lectionary,Social Gospel,Stewardship of the Environment — by Lisa Meeder Turnbull @ 11:00 am

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

And also with you.

The bidding, receiving, and returning of peace is central to the social fabric of all three of the Abrahamic religions. It comes naturally to all of us, though in very different forms. For some, it is a highly ritualized exchange that flows from confession into offering. For others, it is a feature of daily life, as frequent and as natural as the safer “how are you today?” we exchange in the check-out line, at the bank, or just in passing.

Peace between and among God’s people is important to us. Peace writ large was important to Luke as well. The peace of the Lord is central to his Gospel account of the procession into Jerusalem. The “primary plot” of this story, of course, is the procession itself. The people wave palm branches, symbols of victory, and sing a psalm of approach, the traditional psalm used in approaching the temple during Passover, a psalm that carries the procession to the steps of the temple, where they will engage with the priest in a ritualized exchange of petition and entry.

But for Luke, the secondary plot, the plot of peace, is perhaps the more important. In this account, Luke both completes the exchange of peace between heaven and earth and challenges the living out of peace among God’s people. At Jesus’ birth, the angels sang of peace on earth; today the crowd sings of peace in heaven. But Jesus’ focus is on the in-between: That messy, messed-up real-life city of Jerusalem, the city that still can’t seem to get peace right. And Jesus weeps. He weeps for them, and he weeps for us.

If your congregation is anything like mine, our Liturgy of the Palms will stick to the main story. We will process around the perimeter of the nave—perhaps go outside for a lap around the building—we’ll wave our palms and sing of Glory, Laud, and Honor. Most of us will skip the part that challenges us to stop, to pause, to look upon the absence of peace, and to weep.

And so I invite you to do it anyway. Pause for a moment now, or in your time of meditation on Sunday. For whom do you grieve? For what do you weep? What is needed for peace…on earth…in heaven…in both the literal and the figurative Jerusalem…

…and also with you?

September 27, 2012

Michaelmas

Filed under: Lectionary,Legacy,Social Gospel,Stewardship of the Environment,Time and Talent — by Lisa Meeder Turnbull @ 1:36 pm

Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven, who for ever sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your name…[i]

It never gets old, does it?

I arrived in the Episcopal Church 18 years ago this season and I still remember my fumbling attempts to master the Sanctus. It’s tricky. If I tried to get the hang of the tune, the words passed me by. If I focused on praying the words, the music messed me up. I loved the idea of the liturgy; I just couldn’t get the hang of doing it. I struggled to be present in its beauty.

My relationship with the Sanctus changed in a twinkling, during a sermon on the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels. The Anglican celebrant put the question to us: If you knew right now that you were to spend all of eternity in the company of heaven, surrounding the throne, singing praise without pause or ceasing, would you dread the boredom or would you anticipate the joy?

Well that’s a no-brainer. But what a question! What wonderful images it brings to mind, what wonderful dimension it brings to how I experience the Sanctus in the larger context of Holy Eucharist.

The first thing I remember about that evening is the impulse to look around. The priest in his cope, the beautifully dressed altar, the lighting, the incense, the gathering in worship and fellowship… If God’s abundance as I experience it in this life is seen in mirror dimly, if my friends and family and closest relationships are made in God’s image, how insanely amazing must it be to behold God face to face? How precious it truly is to honor God in all I that do, with all that I have, seeking and serving Christ in all persons in this life, knowing that there is yet another dimension of that experience yet to come.

The second thing that I carry with me from that moment is a deeply comforting sense of fellowship and an overwhelming sense of the present. Joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven: It is a far more satisfying image for me to join with those whom I treasure, those I have loved, those giants of faith and witness on whose shoulders I stand than to attempt to name them, or even remember them all, during Prayers of the People. There is something about the image in this phrasing that brings me deeply into a mindfulness of the vast fellowship we honor in the breaking of the bread.

But it’s a both/and. Along with the headiness of the communion of saints comes a deep sense of the present. Forever is in the now. We hold within ourselves the power to live lives that proclaim the glory of all who come in the name of the Lord. We are truly stewards, entrusted in our time with all that has been, with all that is, and with all that is yet to come.

And to that I can only say, Hosanna in the highest.


[i] The Book of Common Prayer, p. 334

July 31, 2012

Enough!

Filed under: Cycle of Prayer,Lectionary,Stewardship of the Environment,Time and Talent — by Lisa Meeder Turnbull @ 1:45 pm

How will I use the gift of this new day? How will I notice the glory of creation?[i]

We have arrived at the time of year when abundance both delights and challenges me, the time when our Rogation Day prayers show forth in bounty. Strawberries have given way to raspberries (my favorite!); corn on the cob is totally worth the extra dental work; and I could honestly eat BLTs breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Somewhere in there I find room for peas and beans and watermelon… And most years I’m lucky to have peaches at their peak over my birthday.

There is, however, a moment in every August when I sound more like an Israelite whining to Moses—The garden is your hobby, not mine. … Just how many pickles are you planning to make?! …. I did remind you that a whole row of zucchini would probably be too much….

I somehow wish the garden were like manna—not too much, not too little, just the right amount. The lesson for me, as it was in the time of Moses, is to look at abundance—and my attitude toward it—a bit more generously. Do I really yearn to sit by the commercial fleshpots and eat my fill of processed food, tempted by the value of super sizing? Would I rather have factory-canned pie filling and flash-frozen fruit for the baking I so love to do? Of course not! I do want this abundance.

But more than that, I yearn to bring humility and gentleness to the tending of fragile young plants. I envy those whose patience brings them into unity of spirit with the soil. I wish I had the forbearance to live in the bonds of peace with insects who want to bite me and weather that makes me sticky and miserable.

My gifts are different. My place in the body of Christ lies in another limb. I thank God for those who are called to till and nurture, to garden and farm and tend, without whose bounty my joy—and my prayer life—would be diminished. I am thankful that together we are no longer children, tossed to and fro and blown about, that we are instead a whole body, building itself up in love.

Holy One, hear our prayers and make us faithful stewards of the fragile bounty of this earth so that we may be entrusted with the riches of heaven. Amen.[ii]


[i] Daily Prayer for All Seasons, Final Draft, January 2011,  p.83.

[ii] http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/prayers.php?id=213

June 1, 2012

The Trinity and the Chocolate Fountain

Filed under: Financial Commitment,Lectionary,Legacy,Social Gospel,Stewardship of the Environment — by Lisa Meeder Turnbull @ 11:43 am

In Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace Miroslav Volf invites us to think of God’s generosity and our response not as linear, giving and receiving, but as circulating, going around and around and spilling out all over the place.

The gifts of grace, love, and joy circulate first among the Trinity. The Three get so caught up in giving and receiving among themselves that their delight in generosity and praise becomes a mighty whirlpool. It spills over into creation, showering all things seen and unseen into our midst. As ones created in the image of God, we are moved to bless, break, and share all that we have in God’s name.

But wait…how do we make that happen? We can’t truly “give” it back to God—God created it! From God’s point of view, it’s like my giving my child some money to go buy me a birthday present. I’m empowering the child’s generosity, enabling the child to express her love and appreciation, but I’m not actually receiving anything that I don’t already have access to.  Is her ability to pull up my online wish list really that special?

What if my child pocketed the money and gave me a hand-drawn card, and maybe threw in a poem she wrote? That would certainly be a gift from the heart that I would always cherish. I would most definitely not be so crass as to ask her where my money went. But would you blame me for feeling a little cynical? Does God ever look at us and think, “Stingy brats!”

On the other hand, what if my child made me a hand-drawn card that said, “Dear Mom, I donated a mosquito net in your name and bought diapers for the local pantry. Happy Birthday.” She still didn’t buy me anything, but she did honor the idea of generosity and joy in celebrating my special day. She has invited me to reflect on my gift and ponder, “Who will this random unknown child somewhere in the world grow up to become simply because she doesn’t die of malaria?” She has launched my new year of life with the quiet knowledge that another mom out there is getting a few diapers’ worth of support for her challenges this day. The abundance of my life and longevity, entrusted to my child, has become something completely new and wonderful.

Transforming abundance in new and wonderful ways doesn’t always come naturally. Nor does the unbounded joy modeled in the Godhead always sit neatly in our cultural norms.

Consider a scene from The Vicar of Dibley. It’s Christmas Eve, 2004. During a pre-worship cocktail party in the manor house of the village’s grandest estate, the senior warden surprises the vicar with a chocolate fountain—not the usual table-top model; this one is probably about eight feet tall, absolutely flowing with sheets and sheets of chocolate waterfalls. The vicar takes one look at this extravagance and announces, “I’m goin’ in!”

It is then of course that the second surprise of the evening arrives and the humor turns on the vicar’s embarrassment as the Archbishop of Canterbury enters the room to offer his blessing on this special day. Quickly composing herself, the vicar drops to the floor, kneeling on priceless carpets, a dripping mess of chocolate running down her hair, face, and shoulders. She manages to stutter out a greeting and the Archbishop figures out a way to bless her without getting too messy himself.

As hysterically funny as this is, I wonder if Professor Volf would agree with me that the vicar’s response is not wholly inappropriate. It certainly runs counter to our cultural norms of decorum—that’s why it’s so hilarious, after all. But might we argue that the only difference between the vicar and the rest of us is that she actually did it?

Look at the vicar through God’s eyes: Here is a woman who knows a lavish gift when she sees it. The church committee’s love and affection for her has spilled beyond the niceties. They have determined to do something lavish and loving—they are already standing back, because they know as soon as they unveil it that she’s going to do something outrageous. They love her for that, and through her they have, over time, grown to understand why Jesus allowed insanely expensive oil to be poured at his feet without apology or concern for the cost. As she kneels, streaming with chocolate, I can’t help but see the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard; upon the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! (Psalm 133)

That is what God asks of us on this Trinity Sunday. God did not create all that is, seen and unseen, just so that we can stand back politely, or treat it as our entitlement, or just sort of live in it without really paying attention. No! I believe that God wants us to delight in the stream of life-giving abundance that flows in us and over us and through us, that spills beyond us, that is transformed  through joy and generosity.

So dive in. For it is there that the Lord has commanded the blessing, life for evermore.

Amen

April 18, 2012

The B-I-B-L-E

Filed under: Children and Families,Stewardship of the Environment — by Lisa Meeder Turnbull @ 1:00 am

This year over the winter break, my daughter’s friends succeeded where I had consistently failed—the girl who would never do sleepover camp agreed to try a one-night stay at the Methodist camp a mile from our house. I was thrilled.

I was even more excited when the camp list included a Bible. One friend said she didn’t really need to take it, but it was on the list and I wasn’t going to let the opportunity slip by. She was getting her own Bible.

That’s OK, Mom; I’ll just take one of yours.

No. I only have one Bible. My church gave it to me when I was in third grade. It’s my Bible and it’s not going to camp with you.

Then I’ll take one of your other Bibles. You have a bunch of them.

No I don’t. I only have that one. I’ve never wanted another Bible.

Mo-om! You have a lot of Bibles. Come here….. See!

Oh, those. Well, this one is my mother’s Bible. It was the only Bible I ever knew her to own. All the little papers she tucked into it over the years are still there. Here’s the rough draft of the letter she wrote to me on my first Christmas. I was just a few months old and she was in the hospital and didn’t know if she would live.

This one is Boppa’s Bible. My mother gave it to him as a Christmas present the first year they were married. See what she wrote in it? “that we may build a Christian home together.” When Daddy gets home, ask him to show you his Bible. I wrote the same thing in a Bible I gave him when we got married.

This one belonged to my grandmother, the one you are named after. Her church gave it to her when she was confirmed. I don’t touch it very much because the cover is rotting, but it’s still very precious.

It’s time for you to have a Bible. Put on your shoes and get in the car.

At our local Barnes and Noble, she heads for the science section and I stand alone in front of the Bibles. This was not the overwhelming selection that AJ Jacobs describes in the introduction to A Year of Living Biblically. Instead of 350 choices, I pretty much had three: The King James Bible, Catholic Edition; The Message; and the NRSV red letter edition. Sigh.

But there…tucked into the middle of a shelf…a flash of linen caught my eye. The Green Bible.

This NRSV translation features soy-based ink, post-consumer recycled paper, and a natural linen cover. A frontispiece features the Canticle of St. Francis of Assisi, and instead of red-letter words of Jesus, all of the passages related to creation, nature, and care of the environment are in green. The perfect Bible for the girl who writes “I ♥ Nature” and “Animals Rule” on everything she owns.

Camp came and went. Her friend was right; they didn’t need their Bibles. As we unpacked her bag, she handed it to me and told me that it could live in the office.

No, sweetie; it should go in your room. It’s your Bible. It goes on your shelves.

It’s OK, Mom. I would rather keep it in the office. You can use it if you want and I’ll know where it is.

It took me a while to realize that this wasn’t a rejection. It wasn’t that she didn’t want her Bible in her room. Her Bible was taking its place on the family shelf.

Maybe someday she’ll even read it.

March 21, 2012

Maple Sabbath

Filed under: Children and Families,Stewardship of the Environment — by Lisa Meeder Turnbull @ 3:26 pm

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof

The family thinks I was born with maple sap in my veins. I wouldn’t be surprised—of all the signs of spring, none makes my heart smile like seeing tap lines in the dull, leafless forest.

When the trees awaken to the cycle of warm days and cold nights, I know that steam from the boiling shack will soon replace the wood smoke from my neighbor’s chimney. I know that I need to drive a bit more carefully as animals come out of hibernation and scurry to build nests and stock in fresh stores for new families. It makes me wonder what it must be like to be God, to take such joy in creation, to delight in all creatures great and small, to know that it is good.

This week we celebrate Maine Maple Sunday. Thankful that Sunday is always a Feast Day, we will set aside our Lenten discipline and open our senses to the stirrings of spring—the awakening forest, the hospitality of farms and families, the fellowship of strangers in the feast of pancakes and sausage and baked beans. We’ll take a break from complaining about mud season and put on our mud boots to follow the lines from tree to bucket to sled to boiling pan. We’ll load up on more than we can carry—maple syrup, maple sugar, maple cotton candy….

Thus will be our Sabbath: The Word of the Lord in the stories we tell and the memories we make; a Psalm of joy and gladness as the trees clap their hands; a celebration of the earth and the fullness thereof.

It almost makes me tempted to squeak out a rogue Alleluia.

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