Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Moveable Feast 

Tonight is Halloween, but it feels for me as if it is already over. All the Halloween parties are over; they were this weekend. I'm not doing anything in particular tonight. I have some candy for trick or treaters, but I doubt I will get any - the house is in an awkward place for foot traffic.

The lock-in was a success, but the face of lock-ins has changed dramatically since I went to them. Whereas I planned activities like pumpkin carving, costume contests, and bobbing for apples, the kids brought flat panel plasma tv's and x box 360's. My costume was a gross hit - people couldn't even look at me straight. But, they learned the legend of St. Lawrence in a way they'll not soon forget, and that's cool. Here's the evidence:

(My fraternity brother and long lost friend just called me and I just told him all this stuff, so now I feel like I'm being repetitive.)

From what I heard last night at the game, the other party was a success as well. The pictures looked hilarious. I'm trying to find the yellow brick road.

We kicked butt last night, which is good, we needed it. 18-4. I got on base a couple of times, scored once and knocked in a few. Next week is the last game of the regular season, which is wild that it's almost over so fast. There's the post-season, for sure, though. And then there's next season. We've already decided to stick together as a team (not sure if I mentioned that already or not). We've really come together as teammates and friendships are forming, which is good. Cause if you ask me, relationship is what it's all about, at the primal level - even below the competition/aggression level. Ok, now I'm waxing philosophical, which is how I know it's time to stop.


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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Weekend Update 

Thursday night was the last night of sailing for the season (sort of) and we made the most of it. The Captain invited the Sailmaker to sail with us and help us tune up our technique. Immediately after the Sailmaker stepped onto the boat he started issuing orders and I thought, "Oh boy, he's not long for the world," and started looking around for the life vests to toss to him when the Skipper tossed him over. But, amazingly, Captain listened to him and obeyed his orders. Our boat flew across the water, rounded marks on a dime, tacked and gybed like a charm. This guy knew exactly how to sail the boat - which I suppose is to be expected seeing as how he made the sails we were flying. Everyone stuck to their jobs and it was amazing. Coming back in to the finish line we are neck and neck with two other boats, one of which was Pirate! We never even come anywhere close to Pirate!! And the best part was, they were doing everything they could but couldn't catch us. So, it was with great pride that we cheered loudly when the race results were announced and we all heard, "Sixth place - Air Rights". Wow! Sixth out of 17. Normally we're the 17. So, now we know the boat can do it. Now we know that under the right direction, the crew can perform. Now we know the Captain can sail this boat well if he just sticks to his job and doesn't micromanage. Will it pay off next season? Who knows, but for one night, we sailed awesome.

And, I thought it was rather big of him, the Captain bought me a Sailing Club t-shirt as a thank you for sailing this season with them. It says on it, "Davis Island Yacht Club - the Sailingest Club in the South." Now, the reason I said the season was only sort of over is because from now til April when the season opens again there are once a month full moon races. It turns out November's is next week, so we'll be back out on the water next Thursday, making this past Thursday's celebrations a bit anti-climactic, but oh well! It was fun!

Now, tonight, is the youth lock-in Halloween party at church, of which I am in charge. 20-25 teenagers are likely to show up and I hope I'm ready! We've got pumpkin carving, movies, games, snacks, and costume contests on the docket. It should be a blast.

And I won't be thinking about the other party I got invited to go to at all. No sir, the fact that I'm missing the other party to which I received several personal invitations by the hot girl who is dressing up as "Naughty Dorothy" (in the dress Judy Garland never wore, apparently) will not be on my mind at all. I won't be thinking about that one bit. Must...not...think...about...that...


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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Planning for the Ordination 

I've been busy planning my ordination service and all the particulars that go along with it. Though I've never done either before, I suspect this is somewhat like planning a wedding, only much lower stress. I've got the music picked out. I've got two choirs to work with, so that's been fun. Some of the St. Luke's choir from Evanston will be coming to sing an anthem, the Psalm, and the Veni, Creator Spiritus. I selected my readings this morning, only straying a little from the list of suggested readings in the BCP, after doing some research on the history of readings from Anglican ordinals. For the OT, the call of Jeremiah fits me better than the call of Isaiah, for one, because Jeremiah received his call at a young age.

I've also got hotel arrangements made for those coming from out of town. If you are planning on coming and I haven't gotten the hotel stuff to you yet, please shoot me an email and let me know.

It's time to start getting excited.


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Monday, October 23, 2006

Softball Report 

Suffice it to say, I'd rather not talk about it. We lost, 20-13 and it was 100% my fault as the pitcher. I could not throw strikes and as soon as they figured that out, they just laid off and walked.

On the bittersweet side of things, I did hit a homerun. But it was worthless.

Gump falls to 4-1.


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I'm working on the All Hallows' Eve lock-in for our youth group - something I originally saw done at a church in Seattle when I was there for my "Plunge" experience two years ago, then transferred to my field ed parish last year, and am now bringing here to St. Mark's. The event has multiple purposes - to give the kids a fun and safe activity, free from the temptations of the secular celebrations, to have an opportunity to just hang out and spend time together, and to reclaim the Christian heritage of the event.

As such, I have announced our costume contest for the evening. There will be different categories of prizes for various things. But the real kicker is that they get to wear their costume in church on Sunday morning if they are dressed up as a Saint, Martyr, or Biblical figure. So, I've been pondering what my costume will be and I've finally found the perfect one.

Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr. It's both appropriate for me that he was a deacon and that he is the patron saint of those who grill out. Why, might you ask, is he the patron saint of bbq-ers? Well, because he was suppossedly martyred by being grilled alive and then beheaded.

So my costume will be awesome! Burned grill marks across my face with a slashed neck make-up thingy. Then, I will get to tell the story of Lawrence's martyrdom, which is rather inspiring. He was said to have been entrusted with the church's greatest treasure - the Holy Grail. When the persecutions of Valerian were in full swing, he was arrested and the church's treasure was demanded of him. He spirited the Grail away, suppossedly to Spain, and then asked for three days to gather the wealth of the church. On the third day, he presented himself to the authorities at the head of a band of beggers, crippled, lepers, and poor stating emphatically that these were the church's greatest treasure.

He was then grilled for his trouble.


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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Great Line 

The Sailing Hearing I had to attend on Tuesday night was an interesting experience, one to add to the annals of my life to be sure. Now I know what they mean by "kangaroo court." Two weeks ago we were run into by another boat as we were rounding a mark. As the inside boat on a starboard tack, we had the right of way. We yelled to the other boat to give room at the mark, as we were suppossed to, but they bore down on the mark and, consequently, us as well regardless. So, our skipper threw up his protest flag and we had to have a hearing.

Unfortunately, we lost the hearing because the other skipper succeeded in establishing that we were farther off the mark than we were, which was not true. But, as there were no injuries or damages, and we're in last place anyway, it doesn't really matter if we got disqualified for this one race.

Now, by far, the best line of the whole proceeding was at the outset.

Judge: Skippers, do you have witnesses?
Both Skippers: We do.
Judge: Witnesses, you must wait at the bar.


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Monday, October 16, 2006

Even Handicapped, Gump Mops Up 

The Forrest Gump softball team approached the field tonight confident, but with cause for trepidation. See, we were short one female, which means if we choose to field an extra male in her place, she must remain in the batting order and when her name comes up, she is an automatic out. We chose to accept this. The first half inning we were in the field and got them one, two, three. We came up to bat and our leadoff hitter gets a double, which brings me to the plate. I take ball one and then hit a double to right center, scoring our base runner. And so the inning continued. Our automatic out at the end of our batting order became out two and we kept going. I come up to bat again, and hit another double, scoring the runner on second. However, this made ten runs, and if you get ten runs in one inning, the last run is counted and then becomes the third out. So, effectively, I was left standing on second and robbed of a chance to score.

The game stayed 10-0 for an inning or two, then jumped to 14-0. I hit one more single, but left the game with only my first two RBIs. Every inning I switch out with the right fielder so he can play first base some too, his preferred position. In one of the innings where I was in right, well, I'll just go ahead and say it - I made a great catch. The ball was skied to right center and I was on my horse to get to it. I knew I would not make it all the way so I jabbed my glove out and got it, but the ball bounced up out of the glove before I could close it. Conjuring the spirit of Andruw Jones, I quickly snagged the ball with my free hand and made the out.

Then, the next inning our pitcher asked if anyone else wanted to pitch. She won't be here next week and she thought whoever was going to pitch would need practice. Of the few of us with pitching experience in slow pitch softball, somehow the lot fell on me. Unsure, I took the mound. After a few ugly pitches, I got into it and got the batters out one, two, three. Unfortunately, not so the following innings. Our 14-0 lead was cut in half by the end of the game, bringing the final score to 14-7, but we still clobbered them. And, yikes!, I'm on the mound next Monday!

Gump keeps on running, we're 4-0 now with no signs of stopping!!


P.S. I'm also feeling a bit of some of the more minor sacrifices of my vocation. Two of our players apparently throw a big costume party every Halloween and they invited us all to come. We agreed to all show up costumed as characters from Forrest Gump. Tonight the date was announced and it's the same night as the St. Mark's Youth Lock-in. I am very disappointed I can't go, at the same time I am excited to do the lock-in. I haven't partied at all since I got to Tampa and I am excited to be making friends outside of St. Mark's, plus Halloween costume parties are my favorite, so I'm bummed I can't go. Thank you, that is all the whining for tonight.

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Jesus is the Funnel! 

So, this weekend, I went to a wedding of a high school friend of mine. It was held at a small Baptist church in a mapdot town off of US 301 of which MapQuest was unaware. The wedding was nice and quaint, and it was a good thing to reconnect with some friends whom I haven't seen in a long while.

I was sharing the story of the wedding with another friend of mine who also knew the groom, and in particular, telling him about one of the more odd aspects of the ceremony. After the rings and vows had been exchanged, the pastor annouced the bride, groom, and himself (representing God) would now take part in what he called "the sand ceremony". Finally, an answer to what the multi-colored cruets of sand were doing on the table up front. The bride took her place in front of the cruet containing red sand, the groom in front of the blue, and the pastor in between them in front of the white cruet, which represented God. (My friend quipped at this point that the fact that God is represented as white is a long standing tradition at Baptist churches along 301!) The pastor spoke about how each of these separate entities were of one color by themselves, but in the marriage, they became one, intermingled inextricably. (Again, at this point, my friend remarked that because the couple's son was already present, he would have thought the symbolism of "the two becoming one" was painfully obvious already!)

So, a yellow oil funnel was placed in the empty fourth cruet and they all raised their sand filled cruets and poured simultaneously into the funnel. But, they poured too much, so that the funnel filled up in addition to the cruet. They stepped aside to complete the rest of the marriage ceremony, leaving three half filled cruets of colored sand and one overfilled cruet/funnel combo of multicolored sand. I laughed as I shared this with my friend and said, "I want to know what the oil funnel represents!" He replied simply, "Well, Jesus of course. Jesus is the funnel by which we become one with God."

How simple.


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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Psalm of Samson 

I'm participating in a very basic "Introduction to the Bible" study group at church based off a program by a company called "Kerygma". It's not a bad module - just very basic from my point of view. I suspect the points of view vary widely in the group, so it's probably a good place to start. Last week we looked a several selections from the book of Judges and towards the end of the assigned chapter in the Kerygma resource book there was a suggested exercise. It said that of all the judges, only Samson is mentioned in the Psalms, and then only once. Try your hand at writing a Psalm about a judge.

With a remarkably clear schedule this morning, I took up my pen (err...keyboard) and began composing a Psalm of Samson. It came out pretty nicely in the end, if a tad long. But hey, what's the surprise there?

I would really suggest this exercise to you. And it doesn't have to be about one of the judges. Just try your hand at composing a psalm in the Biblical style. You'll be surprised at what you come up with I bet.

I shared mine with the Boss Man and now he wants to read it at Morning Prayer tomorrow. He laughed and said, "See what happens when I don't give my assistant enough to do! They go and add to the canon of Scripture!" Well, I'm entirely positive I didn't do that and I'm pretty sure it shouldn't be read at MP tomorrow, but it was nice praise for a fun little exercise.

Anyway, give it a go. See what's in your creative and biblical mind.


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Monday, October 09, 2006

Whitley's Streak Ends, But Gump Keeps on Rollin' 

The good news is we won our game by a lot - in fact, I can't even remember the score. I think it was 23-12 or something like that. The bad news, well, for me anyway, was that my head was simply not in the game tonight and consequently my batting suffered. I only went 2-4 tonight, and both of those dinky singles, one of which should have been an out. I made a couple of good plays at first to make up for it, but I still left feeling personally down, but teamfully uplifted. The other team's loss now leaves us as the only undefeated team in the league. They were quite female-doggy, I must say. On one play, their third baseman was standing directly in the base path, and our runner collided with him in an effort to get safely to third. He immediately was up in our guy's face, complete with a shove. Hey, you stand in the base path, you can get clobbered. No whining. By the last inning, I was hearing from their bench, "We'll see them in the playoffs..."

That's right you will. Better bring your A game!

We went out for a beer or two afterward, which was good times. I am tired now and disappointed in my lackluster batting. Maybe next week I'll be back to full strength.


[Later: The score was 23-13. Check out our power ranking now!]

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

All Creatures of Our God and King 

Today's St. Francis Day Festival was a rip-roaring success! Everyone with whom I spoke loved the event, including many guests who were not parishioners. Hopefully a few of them will return. We had about 57 animals in all, and around 250 humans present for the 10:15 liturgy. Several of the 8 o' clocker's came back for the picnic and the second outdoor blessing (originally reserved for animals beyond a certain size or level of (un)ruliness). The three animal service organizations we had present also loved the event and all asked to be invited back next year. Of the three, the Wildlife Haven was my favorite, because they had the most interesting animals: two baby raccoons, a fox squirrel, a prairie dog, and several gray squirrels.

I felt good about my sermon as well. On my way to preach at the 10:15 liturgy, a particular piece of what I'd like to think of as divine inspiration came over me. When I got to my preaching spot, I looked out and all the congregation, animal and human alike were still dutifully standing waiting for me to say something. So I raised my head authoritatively, gestured with my hands appropriately, and said loudly, "Sit!" Uproarious laughter ensued.

One of the other hits of the day, about which I was equally pleased, was the reception a hymn choice I had made received. Susie, you paying attention? Earth and All Stars was an instant classic among my congregation. It had people smiling, singing afterwards, and the animals loved it, many of whom barked, meowed, or otherwise bellowed their way through it as we all processed out. It was perfectly appropriate and a perfect end to the liturgy.

Next big project: youth lock-in for All Hallows' Eve complete with Candlelit Midnight Mass.
(Note to self: put a protective layer down on the altar before said candlelit mass.)


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Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Weary Day 

I find I am weary today. This morning I attended a meeting that had some disconcerting notes in it, and their potential impact is weighing heavily on my mind. However, in the midst of that, I got some confirmation that I was on the right track with what I taught the youth group and discussed with them last night, so that was positive.

Speaking of them, last night they brought me a picture in a frame taken at the Happening closing that has already found a special place of honor on my desk. At the risk of embarrassing them, but because I want to brag, I will share it with you here. We talked a lot last night about their experience of Happening. I had some private discussions with some of them who wanted to share more personal stuff, but I think by and large, they got out of it what God intended for them to get out of it, whether that be confirmation of their faith, or the courage to speak up about their doubts and fears.

This coming Sunday we are celebrating St. Francis and will include a blessing of the animals in the liturgy. From what I hear, there's going to be quite the crowd here, including homo sapiens sapiens and many others. The liturgy is all worked up - I got to design almost all of it, as doing such a service was my idea (though in fairness, for the logistics of most of it, I copied what we did last year at St. Luke's). I am also the preacher for the day and I've worked up what I think is a pretty decent sermon in honor of blessed Francis. I decided to let the blessing of the animals speak for itself and not dwell on it in the sermon, though I will mention the animals' presence briefly in the beginning. No, what I want to talk about instead is something I noted from the Lesser Feasts and Fasts entry about Francis. It said that while Francis is the most beloved of all saints, he is the least imitated. One of the things that I love which Francis is reported to have said is, "Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words." So, the bulk of my sermon will be sharing some stories from my life where people imitated Francis to me, and preached the Gospel to me in so doing, with the instruction and hope that it will call to the minds of those who hear times in their lives when the same has happened to them. I believe it will work out nicely.


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Monday, October 02, 2006

Batting 1.000; Gump's on a Roll! 

Gump emerged victorious once again, with a final score of 16-12 (even if it should not have been that high against us by four runs, but more on that later)!

Can I just say that our team rocks! Not only are we awesome at the game, but everyone is a lot of fun to play with. Tonight we had some amazing plays in the field. Our pitcher never let getting behind in the count bother her and she brought us home in the end (personally, I think it's the high socks). The other first baseman made a helluva catch from the centerfielder to tag out a runner who advanced too far on a fly ball. There were some great catches in the outfield and some smart fielding all around the infield.

Our bats, obviously, kept ringing them in with some big hits and some clutch hits. Sadly, we lost one player early on in the game to a pair of strained quads, but she'll be ok with some ice and some stretching next week. I think everyone (minus the injured) got a hit this week, which is awesome. I went 4-4 with 4 runs scored and an RBI double (to opposite field, right where I wanted it, he added proudly). Our team is starting to gel together nicely, encouraging each other and no one getting frustrated too badly when they make a goof up in the field or fail to get that big hit.

Now, in the 4th inning, the ump called a runner from the other team out at first for taking a lead off. In the bottom of the 7th (the last inning in slow pitch softball), with the bases loaded and two outs, another of their players took a lead off at second, and the ump pointed it out, and said, "I already called one player out for that. Get back on the base!" They then went on to score four more runs, running the score from 16-8 to 16-12. Now, if you're gonna call a rule once, you gotta call it the whole game, blue! Come on! Had we lost, fits would have been pitched, to put it mildly. But we didn't. So, hopefully, those four extra runs won't hurt us too badly in the power rankings.

And yes, by and large, we remembered each others' names!

Run, Forrest, Run!!!!


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Life Is Like a Softball Game 

Here comes Forrest Gump for week 2! Tonight we'll see if our first week's game was just beginner's luck or the start of an outstanding season. The power rankings from last week are out, placing us firmly in the #1 spot. We had the most runs in the "Scored For" column and the fewest runs in the "Scored Against" column. Will we hold onto it? Can our offense continue putting up numbers like last week? Will our pitching and defense hold? But most importantly, will we remember each others' names?!


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