Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Results Are In

I have seen an overwhelming number of status updates pleading for hate-filled messages to stop but only a few negative posts along the lines of those that people are pleading against.  There are a few possibilities to explain this phenomenon.

Option 1) I've done a terrible job in diversifying my friends and have surrounded myself with people who think exactly as I do.  I say terrible because this allows no room for growth.
Option 2) Facebook has implemented a new hate-blocking app on my news feed preventing me from seeing any more than a few negative updates about the election (going either way).
Option 3) I have an internal filter that prevents me from being able to recognize that I am reading more than a few hate-filled/negative updates about the election (going either way).
Option 4) I have a very diverse group if friends on Facebook, but the vast majority of them are capable of engaging in mature discussions wherein they disagree with the opinions of at least one person.

Whatever the reason (I'm really hoping it's option 4), thanks to everyone who has been willing and able to carry themselves with a level of maturity that makes me proud that you consider me a friend.  To the people who supported Barack Obama and have expressed happiness in the perceived future of our country without insulting those who voted for other candidates, to the people who supported Mitt Romney yet are willing to move forward in the hope that Americans will still find a way to work together regardless of who our elected officials happen to be, to everyone who is responding to the results of yesterday's election in a mature way, thank you.

Thank you for filling my news feed on Facebook with messages of encouragement for our future.  Thank you for calling for an end to the hate-slinging that has caused so much divisiveness and prevents us from working toward a better tomorrow.  Thank you for standing on principles of love, hope, and justice instead of hatred, conceit, and bitterness.  Thank you for proving that we can disagree with each other without also hating each other.

Above all else, I give thanks to God through whom all this is possible.  I pray that all those who have not been able to handle last night's win/loss with grace may come to know your grace in all things.  May you bring us all together so that we can go about the work of your kingdom.  Amen.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sermons Online

So, project management is not one of my strong suits.  Unfortunately for me, project management is a large part of what I (need to) do.  I am happy to say, however, that a number of projects that I have been working on are completed.  There are still a lot of projects that need to be done/started, but I have chosen to highlight the finished projects today.

First, I have gotten myself back in to blogging.  We'll see how long this lasts, but I'm hoping to update this blog at least a couple times a month, if not more frequently.

Those of you who know my church or have spent time talking to me about St. Andrew's know that a large part of our ministry is a food pantry that is open twice a month and serves approximately 200 families.  What you may not know is that, in order to keep track of everyone we serve, we need to use a program that requires internet access.  There are no ethernet ports in our parish hall (where the food pantry is held), and the wireless internet signal wouldn't make it that far.  This turned out to be a rather simple project.  I just needed to take the time to pick up a wireless extender from Best Buy and get it set up.  Now, we no longer need to run 50 feet of ethernet cable from our church offices into the parish hall.

Finally, we have started recording my sermons and posting them on the church website.  This project turned out to be slightly more difficult than I had anticipated.  We have a really old sound system at the church, and I couldn't get the sound to go through the attached tape deck.  Eventually, I found a headphone jack on a part of the system that, until now, was connected but not being used.  Sparing you the boring details, my sermons are now being posted on our church website.  If you'd like to check them out, head on over to St. Andrew's website and click on the date under Weekly Sermons.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Week Comes to an Close

Today is the last day of Holy Week.  The business of Holy Week is coming to a close as preparations are being made for the Easter Vigil early tomorrow morning as well as the big Easter breakfast.  It's amazing just how busy it can be on the Sabbath day.  Even though I know I "should be" resting today, I find myself tweaking my sermon, running through tomorrow's services in my head, and making sure that everything is "ready" for tomorrow.

The Sabbath is supposed to be a day of rest.  Today, especially, should be thought of as a day of rest.  On Holy Saturday, we remember that Jesus rested in the tomb on the Sabbath before the resurrection.  If you can, I encourage you to ignore the example I've set today and find some time for rest.  There will be plenty of time for busyness later.  For now, enjoy as much time off from anything you'd consider work as you can.  Let's use this time of rest as a way to prepare for the joy that is to come in the Easter celebration.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday Returns

Another year, another Good Friday.  Once again, we come to the day we remember, as we have since the fourth century (when the Church first officially recognized this day), the day Christ was crucified.  Seventeen centuries later, we are still using today as a day of remembrance.  In a world where technology is drastically shortening the life span of traditions, how amazing is it that some traditions still hold strong?  Just twenty years ago, I wouldn't even have had access to the technology to post this blog, and many of you wouldn't have access to the technology to allow you to read it even if I could get it out there.  I'm not sure I would have had much to say twenty years ago, but you get the idea. 

Technology is constantly advancing, and we end up constantly changing the way we do things in order to keep up with the latest trends.  Once we finally catch up, we find the world has moved on yet again, and what once was popular is now just a thing of the past.  To have a tradition that has endured through centuries and centuries is something we should hold dear.

This Friday, as we sit at the foot of the cross and remember the sacrifice that was made for us, let us not forget that we should sometimes be making sacrifices for others.  Some things we should hold onto, but we should be willing to let some things go.  Take some time and think about what it is that you can let go.  Maybe it's a grudge you've held for years.  Perhaps things always need to work the way you think they should.  Whatever it is, find something you're holding on to, and let it go.  Jesus was willing to give his life so that we could live.  What are you willing to give up?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Missed Another One!

Well, yesterday's lack of a post officially has me missing more posts this Lent than I did last year.  Holy Week is much busier as the only priest in a church than when you're an assistant in a larger church.  Even though we have less services, I am solely responsible for every service we have.  On the plus side, a priest friend of mine told me that, if I could survive my first Holy Week with a church, I could survive anything the church threw at me.

One of the things that's been "thrown" at me this year is the expansion of our food pantry.  As an Eagle Scout project, a young man has decided to expand our food pantry so that it is more efficient and can serve more people.  All of this sounds wonderful.  The downside is that the construction work will make our parish hall, for all intents and purposes, unusable for a week.  Because of this, he has decided that his spring break is the best time to work on this so that the work can be consolidated (time wise) as much as possible.  I'm sure most of you have picked up on this already, but for those of you that haven't, his spring break happens to be this week.  That's right, there's a huge construction project going on in the church during Holy Week.

At first, I had my concerns about the timing of this.  I already knew my plate would be full during Holy Week.  Why add something else?  The more I thought about it, though, the more I came to like the idea of this happening during Holy Week.  From a practical standpoint, the construction would probably take much longer if it couldn't be done this week.  We'd effectively be out of a parish hall (and with it, unable to host many of the ministries we have here) for weeks.  From a theological standpoint, I see the construction project as a sort of parallel to the theme of Holy Week.  We go from a joyous Palm Sunday to an almost immediate downward spiral (the events leading up to and including the crucifixion/the "death" of our food pantry and parish hall).  Yet, on Easter Sunday, we will be able to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and (God willing) our food pantry.

Today (Maundy Thursday), we are called to remember that Jesus taught us to be servants.  I give thanks that, through the Eagle Scout project going on this Holy Week, St. Andrew's will be able to be a servant to even more people than before.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Vows Renewed

The standard practice in my diocese (and likely in others as well) is to have the clergy gather together on Tuesday in Holy Week to renew their ordination vows.  This morning, I was with my colleagues and friends as we all (bishops, priests, deacons, and nuns) renewed our vows.  As a priest, I specifically responded affirmatively to this question:
Do you reaffirm your commitment to respect and be guided by the pastoral direction and leadership of your bishop, to be diligent in the reading of Holy Scriptures, to minister the Word of God and the sacraments of the New Covenant, to undertake to be a faithful pastor to all whom you are called to serve, to pattern your life in accordance with the teachings of Christ and to persevere in prayer, both in public and in private?
I have been a priest for nearly two years, and it is always helpful to come back to the vows I made at my ordination.  Hopefully, I have done a good job of upholding them.  Hopefully, I can keep in mind that my life should be an example to others that Christ died, not so that we could feel better about ourselves or consider ourselves above others because we are "saved", but so that we could be closer to our God and creator.

This Holy Week, my prayer for all of you is that you can find this message in the cross.  Though it was once used as a symbol of death and persecution, it should now be for the whole world a sign of love and acceptance in spite of the fact that we have done nothing to deserve it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

He Wore What?

Last week, I mentioned that there were a number of humorous stories that can be found in the Bible.  Yesterday, I was reminded of another one.  This is actually part of a larger story.  As such, it tends to get lost due to the significance and weight of everything else around it.  I'm sure that many of you have heard this story before, especially if you heard the long version of the Passion Narrative read at church yesterday.  Right after Jesus is arrested but before he goes before the chief priests, we get these two verses:
A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked. -Mark 14:51-52
That's it.  That is all that is said about this incident.  Mark's Gospel account is the only one that contains this story, and the young man is never mentioned again.  Why is this story in here?  Who is this young man?  Why was he naked?  These are all questions to which I have no answers.  I do, however, have something to say about it.

In looking a bit further into this, I found something very interesting.  The Greek word for "linen cloth" that is used in this passage is only used three times outside of this story in the New Testament, once in each of the first three (or synoptic) gospels.  Any guesses on where it's used?  If you guessed that it is used as the linen cloth in which Jesus' body is wrapped after the crucifixion, you are correct.

What does this mean?  I don't know.  Perhaps it's foreshadowing the resurrection and telling us that not even wrapping Jesus in a burial cloth (i.e., Jesus being dead) will prevent Jesus from being free.  I'll let you come to your own conclusions on what this small portion of the Gospel means.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fire From Heaven

Growing up, one of my favorite comic strips was "Calvin and Hobbes".  Who am I kidding?  "Calvin and Hobbes" is my favorite comic strip today.  Maybe it's because I identify with Calvin, the really smart but over imaginative child.  Perhaps it is because I had a stuffed cat that I used to take everywhere with me.  Most likely, it is a combination of those two reasons in addition to how well Bill Watterson was able to use the strip as a commentary on our society.  Take this strip for example:

It can be really difficult for us to be in situations where we are powerless (maybe even victims) to stop wrongs from happening.  This becomes even more difficult when it seems like there are no consequences happening to the person who is committing wrong acts.   How easy is it for us to blame God for not righting every wrong we come across?  How often do we hear (or even ask ourselves) "How can God exist if [insert negative thing here] does?"  Even some of Jesus' disciples had trouble with this.
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set towards Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village. -Luke 9:51-56
Like Calvin did almost 2000 years later, James and John wanted some sort of holy retribution against people they've seen doing something they felt was wrong.  We must remember that it is not our place to call down fire from heaven against the "sinners" of this world.  If it were, we all would have been burned long ago.  As we prepare for Holy Week, let us remember that Jesus died for everyone, even those who don't receive him in their hearts (and those who have, but act like they haven't).

Friday, March 30, 2012

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

 There's really no wonderful way of introducing this.  I'm going bald.  I'm 27 years-old, and I've been going bald for years.  This may not seem like such a big deal, but my hair (when I had a lot of it) was a large part of my identity.  In fact, I didn't start wearing my hair (what I have left of it, anyway) as short as it is now until late 2009.  Before then, it was common for me to have my hair in all sorts of different styles that required my hair to be at least a couple inches long.  When I did finally decide to cut it all off, a lot of people didn't recognize me.

As difficult as this transition has been for me, I think I've handled it well.  In doing youth ministry, I've had to.  There were some youths I worked with before moving to Dayton who especially enjoyed giving me a hard time about it.  How did I handle such a "sensitive" issue?  I simply turned to the Bible.  When one of the youth started in about me going bald, I suggested she read 2 Kings 2:23-25.
[Elisha] went up from there to Bethel; and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, ‘Go away, baldhead! Go away, baldhead!’ When he turned round and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and then returned to Samaria. -2 Kings 2:23-25
When she was done reading, I simply smiled at her and asked her to remember what happened the last time a bunch of kids made fun of one of God's prophets for going bald.   Before anyone gets too upset, I wasn't seriously threatening to maul anyone with a bear.  This was just a way to respond humorously to the situation instead of letting it get to me.  Everyone there got a good laugh out of it, and the issue of my thinning hair started coming up less and less.

There are a lot of funny and weird stories in the Bible.  One of the benefits of doing as much Bible study as I have is that I know so many stories like this.  What are some of your favorite weird Bible stories?

Thursday, March 29, 2012


There are times when I think that the world would be so much better if God could just grant my wishes.  I don't ask for much.  A little extra money to help pay the bills or for the weather to be just right when I have something planned outdoors isn't too much to ask, is it?  Didn't Jesus say to "ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you" (John 15:7b)?  Why, then, does it seem that I rarely get what I ask for?

We've all heard the saying "if wishes were fishes, the ocean would be full."  Certainly, God couldn't grant every wish or petition we ask for.  If every wish was granted, the outcomes would not be quite what we expect.  For example, the lottery is currently at somewhere around $363 million.  Let's say that everyone who plays the lottery says a quick prayer asking to win.  I have no idea how many people play the lottery, but I think that one million is a fairly conservative number.  If all one million people won, each person would only get $363.  That is certainly not the quick road to being a millionaire that most people would be wishing for.

This brings me to another aspect of wishing.  From a logical standpoint, it would be impossible for all one million of the lottery players to win based solely on the fact that they wouldn't all play the same number.  I suppose that, technically, God could choose to switch everyone's numbers to the same one that comes up in the drawing and rearrange everyone's memory so that they thought they chose the new numbers, but that seems needlessly complex.  Beyond the mere impracticality of God granting wishes, though, I think there's a better explanation to why there's that apparent contradiction from John's Gospel account and our experiences.

As with many things, we often pick up on only a small portion of what's really there.  It is so easy to hear, "Ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you," and forget that there's more to be said.  The full verse reads: "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." (John 15:7)  This comes in the middle of Jesus talking about the True Vine.  In this, Jesus explains how a branch cannot bear fruit if it is not connected to the vine.  The analogy is quite clear when Jesus explains that He is the vine, and we are the branches.  Knowing this context, it becomes a bit easier to sort out what Jesus means in verse seven.

In order for God to grant whatever we wish, we must abide in Jesus and let Jesus' words abide in us.  If this is true, than we will only wish for that which already accords with God's will.  This is not saying that we have some secret to get whatever we want.  What we have is a simple statement that, if we can learn to desire what God desires for us, we can have that.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

No More Silence

A couple of weeks ago, I posted on Jesus being angry.  Earlier this week, I came across something that made me angry.  So angry, in fact, that I needed to take some time away from it before I could post about it without letting it be just an angry post.  I apologize for not posting something yesterday, but I really needed the time away before I could appropriately address this issue.

I'm sure most of you have heard about the Trayvon Martin case down in Florida.  For those of you that haven't heard about this, here's the short version of the story.  Trayvon Martin was a 17 year-old African-American who lived down in Florida.  On the way back from a convenience store to his father's girlfriend's home on February 26 of this year, he was followed by a community watch captain named George Zimmerman who said Martin looked suspicious.  Zimmerman called the police to inform them of the situation.  When Zimmerman was told that police were on their way and he no longer needed to follow Martin, he agreed.  By the time police arrived, Zimmerman had fatally shot Martin.  Zimmerman claimed that he was threatened by Martin, who was unarmed.  As of today, no charges have been pressed against Zimmerman.

While this story is upsetting, that is not why I have been so angry.  I am angry because this is just one story.  There has been a very similar case here in Dayton, OH that has gone largely unnoticed.  On March 1 of this year, Dante Price, a 25 year-old African-American, was fatally shot by security guards, who fired their weapons twenty-two times.  As with the Trayvon Martin shooting, no charges have been filed.  How many other cases like this are there across the country that we just aren't hearing about?

Another aspect of this that makes me angry comes from a statement made by Geraldo Rivera, a commentator for the Fox News Channel.  He said, "I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was...I'll bet you money, if he didn't have that hoodie on, that nutty neighborhood watch guy wouldn't have responded in that violent and aggressive way." (Quote from Geraldo Rivera on "Fox and Friends") 

I'm not angry so much at the statement itself as I am at the picture it paints of our society.  Rivera wasn't saying that the hoodie was responsible for Trayvon Martin's death.  He was saying that a hoodie on an African-American was responsible.  That someone can say something like this and believe it (offering only a half apology in response to backlash) says to me that we live in a time where people believe that someone's skin color can be threatening. 

In my post a couple weeks ago, I asked what it was that made you angry.  This is what makes me angry.  I cannot sit idly in a society that allows this to happen.  I don't know what my next moves will be, but I do know that I can no longer remain silent on this issue.  I hope that you all will join me and break your own silence over injustice.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Priestly Preparedness Kit

Back in seminary, there was a lot of hype about having disaster preparedness kits.  Every dorm had to have them.  Around that time, I started to notice an upswing in "what [insert number here] things can you not live without" ice breakers being suggested for youth groups.  In thinking about all of this, I've decided that I'm going to start keeping a Priestly Preparedness Kit in my car.  I spend a lot of time in my car and/or out of town.  Having something portable like this ready to go all the time would help if something comes up and I don't necessarily have time to stop back at home or the church.  The only problem I currently have with this plan is that I haven't decided yet on everything I'm going to include in this kit.  I found a suggestion for a Spiritual Emergency Home Kit for Roman Catholics:
  • Rosaries with pamphlets on the Mysteries                                                   
  • Divine Mercy prayer cards with image and prayers
  • A small Crucifix
  • Holy water
  • Blessed salt
  • Blessed oil
  • Scapulars with explanation leaflet
  • St. Benedict medals or St. Benedict Crucifixes
  • Miraculous Medals with explanation leaflet
  • A small New Testament with Psalms or your preference
          (have the Bible in a prominent place in your home,
          along with other blessed religious images, Crucifixes and statues)
  • Prayer book(s), Pieta book or prayer cards, Consecration Prayers
  • Wallet-size plastic magnifier for small print (optional)
  • Blessed palms or “palm crosses”
  • Blessed beeswax candles and matches  
  • Small pictures or holy cards of Jesus, Mary, 
  • St. Joseph, St. Michael the Archangel and other saints
  • A small statue of Jesus
  • A list of phone numbers and e-mail addresses of people with
    whom to share pertinent information in an emergency.

That seems a little too involved for me.  I'm trying for something much more compact that will travel easily.  Here's what I've come up with so far:
  • Communion Kit
  • Anointing oil
  • Holy Water
  • BCP
  • Collar (Clerical? Dickie?)
I haven't decided on what I should do for the collar.  Maybe it's not even necessary.  Is there anything else you think should be included in this kit?  Does anyone out there already have one of these?

Saturday, March 24, 2012


I am officially dedicating this post to everyone who has been on the receiving end of a "hater".  To anyone who has ever been told that they are too short, too tall, too big, too small, too masculine, too feminine, too dark, too light, too ethnic, too young, too old, or too anything else...this post is for you.

Before I go further, please know that nothing has happened recently to spark this.  I just realized that I haven't touched on this subject yet.  I have been told many of the things I listed above, but it has been a while since I have heard any of them.

A "hater", for those of you unfamiliar with the term, is anyone who, for whatever reason, seeks to bring others down.  I don't know what motivates a hater, and I'm not going to try and speculate what their motivation might be.  For the purpose of this blog post, all I want to say about haters specifically is summed up by this picture (one of many similar pictures popular on the internet right now):

Interestingly, this picture also conveys, in a sense, the message I want to get out.  No matter what the haters say, keep your head up.  Don't give in and accept what they are trying to tell you.  Don't become a hater, yourself.  In fact, I'll go even further and say that you should genuinely pray for them.
‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
-Matthew 5:43-48
It is our responsibility as followers of Jesus, not to allow ourselves to be brought down by others, but to continually lift others up, even if they are the very ones trying to bring us down.  I know this is a difficult task, but know that I am praying for you, too.  May God grant you the strength to keep your head up.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Gospel According To...

Have any of you read a book that has "The Gospel According to" in the title?  It could be anything from "The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss" to "The Gospel According to Starwars: Faith, Hope, and the Force" to even "The Gospel According to Starbucks: Living Life with a Grande Passion".  The only book I'm not including in this list is "Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal" (Lamb).  With the exception of Lamb, the books in the "Gospel According to" category seem to be attempts at highlighting connections (intentional or not) between something that is popular in secular culture and the Bible.

A quick search on Amazon for "The Gospel According to" got over 28,000 results.  I've never read any of these books, so I'm not entirely sure what to make of them.  Usually, I'm all for analogies, but I wonder if these books may be trying to hard and "forcing" a connection where none really exists.

On Sunday morning, I will stand in the middle of my church and say, "The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John." A short while later, I will attempt to make connections between the Gospel and our life today.  Will my analogies be appropriate, or will I end up forcing some obscure connection that doesn't truly fit?

We are currently living in a society that is telling us Church is becoming less and less relevant to our lives.  Do we do what the Church has done in the past and start assimilating secular practices into what it means to be part of the Church?  At what point do we draw the line and let the Gospel speak for itself?

I'm afraid I don't really have answers to any of these questions.  Today is just a day of questions.  If you figure out any answers, let me know.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Response Part II

I don't normally do this, but I had a bit of an epiphany about yesterday's post.  Blog writing is a lot like praying.  Even though it had seemed to me that not many people were reading this blog, it turns out that it has been viewed a considerable number of times.  The blog was getting a good response, I was just unaware of it.  I think that God sometimes responds to prayers in a similar way.

It can be easy to think that God doesn't respond to our prayers.  The truth may be, however, that God responds in ways we are not looking for.  I'm not trying to go for the whole "God works in mysterious ways" cliché.  I'm saying that we sometimes misunderstand the way that God responds to us.  This shouldn't be a mystery to us.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.
-Isaiah 55:8-9
 How often do we assume that God will think and act the way we do?  Sure, sometimes God works in ways we expect, but we shouldn't worry when things don't go our way.  I would say that, the majority of the time, things don't turn out the way I expect them to.  Actually, they usually turn out much better in unexpected ways.  Take some time to think about ways God may have responded to you in unexpected ways and let me know how it worked out for you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Lately, I've been thinking a lot about how everyone is responding to my blog.  I've only had direct conversations with a few people about my blog, a few more through social media, and a bit more through comments directly on the blog.  It wasn't until I decided to actually look at how many people are viewing the blog that I got a different picture.

I admit it.  I was really shocked when I saw that the all time pageview history was 1,759!  578 of the views were just in the past week.  It would seem that this blog is being viewed by many more people than I knew about.  As a beginning blogger, this is great news.

1,759 pageviews spread out over more than a year's time certainly doesn't place this blog on most viewed lists.  I don't expect to go on a trip somewhere, meet someone new who happens to be an avid reader of this blog.  It is just good to know that when I spend all of this time writing and posting, there are people all over who are getting something out of it.

This goes out to everyone who reads this blog, whether I know it or not: thank you for taking the time to read what I have to say.  I don't always have some deep insight or come up with something new to share with you all, but I try to get something out there.  If any of you have any suggestions or questions for what you would like to see on here, please let me know.  I can always use some help in the idea/topic department, and I'm glad to do whatever I can to help you out with questions you may have.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lent Madness

Why have I not paid attention to Lent Madness sooner?  For those of you who don't know what Lent Madness is all about, I strongly urge you to check it out.  Here's a brief quote from them about Lent Madness: "Who will win the Golden Halo? Lent Madness pits 32 saints in a 'holy smackdown' for the prize, and you will decide the winner."

It seems fitting that, given the intentional connection between Lent Madness and March Madness, there is an unexpected connection as well.  Lent Madness is hosted by Forward Movement, which happens to be based in my diocese (Southern Ohio).  "It's the first time in NCAA tournament history that four schools from a single state have advanced to the Sweet 16 in the same season." (ESPN Stats & Information)  Those four schools all happen to be located in, you guessed it, Southern Ohio.  Now that my little plug for Ohio is done, on to Lent Madness.

Not only do you get the chance to vote on your favorite saints (some bishops have already endorsed theirs), you get to learn about the saints as well (which I think is really the point).  This is really a fun, interactive way to learn more about the people we celebrate throughout the year in our church calendar.  If you have the time, watch the video posted below for this weeks updates, then head over to to cast your vote.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Learning Something New

I've said many times before that I believe the day I don't need to learn anything is the day I die.  Continued learning is a huge part of life.  Admittedly, the things I learn on any given day are more likely to be trivial than important.  I'm still learning something, though, and sometimes the trivial information can be useful.

Yesterday morning, I arrived at church and found a small vase of flowers on the altar.  When I say small, I mean that, vase and all, it couldn't have been much larger than my hand.  There was no note left anywhere that the flowers were given for a special reason (those flowers tend to be much larger and not on the altar).  There was no mention of anything special going on in the bulletin.  There was only a small vase of flowers.  One of my parishioners, upon seeing the flowers, pointed out that it was Mothering Sunday.  I was clueless and kept thinking she meant Mother's Day.  It was time for me to learn something new.

As it turns out, Mothering Sunday occurs on the fourth Sunday in Lent and is the UK's version of Mother's Day (talk about being in touch with our Anglican roots).  There is a tradition at my church to celebrate Mothering Sunday by setting special flowers on the altar during the service.  If there's anything else to the tradition, we skipped it this year simply because I had no idea what should be done. 

The timing of Mothering Sunday this year seems rather fitting for me.  Yesterday was the day my family celebrated my mother's birthday (as well as my parent's anniversary).   While I was not able to be there yesterday, I did spend a few days with family at the end of last week, so I got to do a mini celebration.

Are there any "new" traditions you are discovering?  I'm especially interested in hearing from my priest and church followers about discovering traditions in their churches.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I'm sure you're all wearing green to celebrate St. Patrick's Day (or you did on St. Patrick's Day if you're reading this at a later date).  My question to you is simple.  Why?

How many of you know anything about St. Patrick?  Aside from the obvious, of course.  We all know he was Irish, drove the snakes out of Ireland, and was signified by the color green.  Actually, he was British, there were no snakes to begin with, and his official color is blue.  These are the most common known "facts" about St. Patrick, and they're all false.  How did we get to this point where we started celebrating this man's life without really knowing anything about it?

My guess is that, over time, the legends associated with St. Patrick became exaggerated to the point that people forgot the truth.  I encourage you to take some time and watch the video I've posted below about St. Patrick.  I think you'll find that, without the exaggerated legends, there's plenty of reason to celebrate Patrick as a saint.  Hope you all have a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sense of Humor

A neutron walks into a bar and orders a drink. Upon being asked the price, the bartender responded, “For you? No charge.”
Two atoms are walking down the street. One suddenly stops and says, “Oh no, I’ve lost an electron.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m positive!”
What did the proton say to the electron?
Stop being so negative.
These are just a couple jokes that make me laugh because they match my sense of humor.  While I have a fairly wide range in my sense of humor, "nerd humor" has a special place in my heart.  This is most likely because I consider myself a nerd (in a positive sense).

I posted not too long ago about the benefit of laughter, but I couldn't help coming back to this topic.  Perhaps I've just spent a lot of time looking at nerd humor stuff online today.  Whatever is drawing me to this, I know one of the benefits of posting on this today is the opportunity to share a bit of myself with all of you.  Of all the types of humor out there, nerd humor is easily in my top 5 styles.  Even if the joke is just an awful pun or simply not that funny, the fact that it's a "nerd" joke makes it hilarious to me.  This is probably why I'm such a huge fan of "The Big Bang Theory" (the tv show, though the cosmological model is fairly interesting).

In short, if you want to make me laugh, tell me a joke that has something to do with science or math.  Bonus points if I don't get it right away.  Also, bonus points if you get this (taken from a webcomic I read almost daily):

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I spent some time today going through some old files at my parents' house.  It is amazing how much I had forgotten of what I looked through, particularly when I was looking at some of my accomplishments.

A lot of this was sparked when my mom found a letter from Who's Who Among American High School Students.  If you are not familiar with that organization, they recognize only five percent of US high school students every year.  To quote the letter:
"Who's Who is the most respected student recognition publication and award program in the nation.  Our standards have been cited by education, parent and teachers associations at the state and national levels.  Over 93% of colleges and universities surveyed equate the Who's Who award with academic excellence."
After finding that, my mom reminded me that I had scored a 1500 on the SAT when I was in seventh grade.  I don't include all of this here simply to toot my own horn (though I was pretty awesome back in the day).  I mention this because I am shocked that I would forget such achievements from my past.  These were huge accomplishments that (I would have thought) would have stayed with me forever.  Why did I forget about these?

Well, I've read a few articles online that suggest the human brain is not designed with happiness as the "base" mood.  In fact, happiness is used by our brains as a sort of carrot on the stick motivator for us.  In order to prevent us from becoming complacent, our brain only allows us to enjoy happiness for a brief period of time before returning to our base mood.

This helps make sense of why I would forget about such accomplishments from my past.  After experiencing the joy and happiness from these achievements, my brain settled me down in order for me to focus on the next accomplishment.  Perhaps this is why so many of us can feel like we are missing out on feeling happy.  We're not really missing out.  Sometimes, we just forget about some of the things that made us happy so that we can move on to the next achievement.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


During a Bible study earlier today, I had a sudden realization.  Well, I guess it would be more apt to call it a sudden remembrance of something I hadn't thought about in a while.  I remembered/realized that temptation is not always about wanting something bad.  Obviously, there are bad things that we sometimes want and can be a source of temptation, but this isn't always the case.

There are times when we are tempted by something that is good.  For example, success, the ability to support oneself and/or one's family, and receiving a good review/grade are positive things that we can want.  We can want them so bad, however, that we may be tempted to do something negative in order to achieve those goals.  Maybe it is taking credit for someone else's work in order to get ahead or cheating on a test so you can pass the class.  Whatever the method is, we can lure ourselves (or be lured by others) into thinking that, simply because our end goal is a good one, it's ok for us to do something that's maybe a bit unethical in order to get it.  In short, we become convinced that the end justifies the means.

I could go on and on about how this is just wrong (in fact, I did, but then realized this post was heading towards being ridiculously long and deleted half of it).  Instead of going into a long discourse, however, I'll just say that there are some means that are justified by some ends, but it is illogical to assume there are ends that are so good that any means used to achieve them are justified.

This is the temptation that is the most difficult to see and resist.  It is far easier to resist temptation when we know that the end is bad for us.  Resisting the temptation to do something questionable in order to do good?  That's where we get tricked.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Daily Devotions

One of the expectations of us during the season of Lent is that we will spend time reading and meditating on God's holy Word.  Of course, this should be an expectation of us year round.  I did a post last week about the Android app I wrote for the Daily Office.  Currently, the app only has Morning and Evening Prayer (in English and Spanish), but you could head over to Mission St. Clare's website and get access to more of the offices and devotions found in the BCP.  While I am a big supporter of all things BCP, there are plenty of other resources out there for daily devotions.  Searching for "daily devotion" on just Amazon's website turned up over 4,000 results.  If you read an entire devotional book every day, there's enough on Amazon to keep you busy for over ten years, and that's just looking in one place.

With all of these resources out there, it can be difficult to find one that works for you.  I have found that I prefer devotions that take just a few verses from scripture and provide a short reflection and prayer on the passage.  One of my favorite devotionals in this style d365


This website is simple and uncluttered.  In addition to the devotions, they also provide soft background music.  Do you have any devotions that you do regularly?  If so, please let me know about them.  Prayer and devotion is a huge part of the Christian life, and I'm always interested in finding out how people are doing it.