Thursday, March 31, 2005

Black Tuesday KC called it. Except it was Wednesday. Things, they are a-changin'. I'm single again. Guess I'll go watch Bridget Jones' Diary for the umpteenth time and drink a bottle of wine.

Except that I leave tonight for St. Joseph, MO. Spark weekend at my hometown church. I'll get to be with my grandparents Friday and Monday during the day, so that'll be fun. Other than that I'll be at my parents house with a bunch of 17 year olds. It should be an interesting time. Lots of discussion to be had about God, the Bible, relationships and family.

Until next time . . .

Thursday, March 24, 2005

This is the sermon I preached at FBC Austin's Maundy Thursday Luncheon Service:

Jesus Before The Powers: The Disciples

They didn’t get it.

You know the kind. As the head counselor at the new high school, speaking at the senior assembly about education, promise and America’s future you watch blank faces file out of the auditorium asking who finished the algebra assignment and can they copy it. Or you make an honest attempt to create a moment with your child – you speak of the air in your lungs and the way the grass feels under your feet and with glove in hand you sprint outside as he walks off to play X-Box. Or you’re at dinner with this new guy you’ve been dating and while you talk about beauty, truth, compassion and justice, he interrupts to ask if you’re gonna finish your burger.
People who don’t get it: those who miss the point, misunderstand, and fall awkwardly short of the topic at hand.

Jesus knew the kind. He had twelve of them anxiously listening, dreaming and not getting it most of the time. Remember with me the book of Mark. One night during a storm, Mark says the disciples wake Jesus in a panic, screaming at him for his apathy at their impending death. Jesus in turn criticizes the disciples for their fear, and calms the wind.
In chapter 6, at one of Jesus’ massive preaching events, the disciples worry about feeding five thousand people at lunchtime, and so try to send them away. Jesus, however, feeds the thousands on just a couple of fish and some loaves of bread, but even after experiencing this miracle the disciples are at a loss as to what happened. Mark says they “did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.” Just a few days (and a few chapters) later at another gathering, as if they missed the first major feeding miracle, the disciples, come lunchtime, lament again, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” to which Jesus with wide eyes responds, “Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember?”
Time and time again the disciples fail to comprehend. After contending with the Pharisees in chapter 7, Jesus and the disciples leave to get away by themselves for a while at which point Jesus discovers that the disciples don’t get it either. “Then do you also fail to understand?” he cries.
In chapter 9, the disciples fail to cast out a demon for lack of faith and then later try to stop someone else who is casting out demons and doing the work of Jesus. Talk about missing the point: egos versus miracles. No wonder they get into arguments over who is the greatest and who will get to sit next to Jesus in heaven.
Throughout Mark’s gospel the disciples are described as “perplexed.” Verse 9:32 says “they did not understand what [Jesus] was saying and were afraid to ask him.” Finally, when one of them does get something right (when Peter confesses that Jesus is the Messiah), he turns right around and misunderstands the Messiah’s calling. Jesus rebukes Peter, calling him Satan for having a mind centered on human thoughts and not divine ones.

Jesus Before The Disciples: their massive misunderstanding of Who Jesus was proved a significant power with which Jesus had to contend.
When I initially heard the topic of “Jesus before the powers,” I thought of Ciaphus, Pilate, the Sanhedrin, even Satan. I didn’t initially think of the disciples. The disciples were Jesus’ “best buds,” his “traveling companions,” his “students,” his “family.” But the disciples didn’t always understand Jesus...

In Mark chapter 14, we are painted a picture of an agonizing Jesus, a Christ who goes to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, and sweats blood, cries blood, and foreshadows the blood he will shed in just a few hours. We get a glimpse of a man who pleads with God to undo what is about to happen, to make it all go away, to reverse the process already set in motion. We find a human Jesus who cries before his Father; we witness a man in psychological anguish. And we find his three best friends sleeping after three times Jesus begs them to keep watch.
Destined for death but willing to go there, Jesus and his three guilty sleepers descend from the Mount of Olives to the streets below where dawn will soon be breaking for the darkest days in Christian history. Judas arrives to greet them. The other disciples join them. A crowd of people gather around Jesus as usual. And then come the guards. With weapons in hand they come to arrest this gentle man who spent the night before not sharpening his sword, but sharpening his will in prayer. The moment of truth has arrived; Jesus had been warning the disciples of this hour for weeks now. Would they stand up to the truth of who they confessed Jesus to be? A kiss is placed, a warm embrace from the man who found it possible to put a price on friendship. Judas misunderstood Jesus’ calling and with a tender kiss, betrayed his master. The guards seize the marked man. Swords are drawn as the mob gets anxious and a guard loses an ear. The disciples’ hearts quicken. Is this the revolution they’d been waiting for? Is today the day Rome will fall? But Jesus surrenders to the guards willingly, and walks off with them towards the Temple.
The disciples panic. The guards try to seize those who had been with Jesus, but rather than stand up for their faith, the disciples flee the scene. One man hangs around too long and a guard gets a grip on the man’s linens. Ripping free, he leaves his clothes in the hands of his assailant and runs naked into the night. Some scholars say this is Mark’s testimony of his own reaction to Jesus being taken captive, that it is the author himself who bares the shame of his naked body and flees without his faith. But the imagery is the same with or without a name attached to the naked body escaping the garden, and we are taken back to the first garden, when the first man, also aware of his nakedness and his fear, fled into the night.

And Jesus alone walked to the Temple.

The disciples had given up their families, their jobs, their homes to follow Jesus (much more than most of us), but when the final hour came, they wouldn’t walk with him.

Probably because they didn’t get it.

All Jesus wanted was for them to stay awake. All he wanted was for them to keep watch over their faith. All he wanted was for them to love their God and bring his kingdom by loving their neighbors. But they drew their swords and then fled the scene.
And Jesus walked alone to his death.

The disciple’s misunderstanding of the mission of Jesus was the first power Jesus contended with and the first battle he lost. It was probably the most painful power he faced. Please stay awake, please keep watch, please love your neighbor, please love me. But the disciples turned their faces away, and Jesus walked alone to face the next set of powers.

I’ve been there, have you? Wanting people: a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend to love you enough to stand by you through think and thin . . . only to find they won’t. Patty Griffith wrote a song called 10 Million Miles, in which she sings,
I must’ve walked 10 million miles
I must’ve walked 10 million miles
I wore some shoes that weren’t my style,
10 million miles.
I’ve been kind of told some lies
Like anyone who’s lived or died,
Like anyone who’s really tried
To walk 10 million miles.

Disappointment, betrayal, longing, hoping and complete misunderstanding . . . forget the guard’s ear, the disciples’ lack of courage plunged the swords of misunderstanding deep into Jesus’ heart. And talk about shoes that weren’t his style, Jesus gave up the perfect communion of Trinity to descend to earth to become human. And when he tried to create community and understanding here, he discovered one of human community’s most disappointing characteristics: we hurt each other.

Not one stepped out of the shadows in Mark’s account. Not one took a stand.

And 2000 years later, I am Judas. I am Peter. I have slept, and I have fled.

But Jesus’ love and compassion for our lonely souls compelled him to walk the loneliest walk of his life . . . so that we don’t have to.

Thanks be to God. And now I find myself singing . . .

I memorize and I forget
I do some things that I regret
Wish for things I’ll never get
Walk in the rain and get wet
I must’ve walked 10 million miles
I must’ve walked 10 million miles
Wore some shoes that weren’t my style
Fell into the rank and file
So just say I was here awhile
A fool in search of [His] sweet smile
10 million miles

Ann Pittman
March 24, 2005
First Baptist Church Austin
Maundy Thursday Luncheon Service

Monday, March 21, 2005

back to school
back to school
somethin' somethin'
golden rule.

not as much blogging to be done this week as i'm back at work. this is a very busy week what with teaching tuesday, preaching thursday, watching Jesus Christ Superstar (the musical) wednesday, and going to lenten services thursday-sunday.

but i did have a kid ask me today if i could feel my nosering when i snort coke.


lent. life. gotta love it.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Emily called this morning: "Are you coming home for Easter?"

No Emily. How would I do that?

"You could drive."

Well I do have this thing called a job.

The conversation continued with her getting more and more irratated.

"You need to come home because Jesus died on a cross."

What's that got to do with the price of bread? That doesn't pay for a plane ticket. That doesn't give me my $95 a day salary if I take days off to drive (plus gas money).

"That's stupid Ann."

Jesus? or my job?

Needless to say, Emily lost the argument for me to go home for Easter, so it will be spent here among friends and acquaintances. I preach at FBC Austin's Lenten luncheon service Maundy Thursday and then Mosaic services begin that night. We have one each day: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and then Easter. Each service (following church tradition) will be darker and darker until Sunday morning when we reveal that Jesus rose from the dead (hope I didn't ruin the ending for anyone). The lights are turned on again (having been slowly removed or turned off during the previous 40 days of Lent), icons and art will be returned to their place on walls and tables, and we will rejoice. Should be an exciting, draining, refreshing weekend.

But it won't be at home with my family. And there will be no Wyatt Park's unified service where they'll probably sing a "He Lives" or something like that. So there are pluses and minuses.

But it will be Easter and it will be rejoicing, and like Christ, if I can't be with my family in person, they will be with me in spirit.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Zorba strikes again.


Both the Radster and Zorby have worms so I had to take them to the vet today.

(take a deep breath)

So I've got Zorba in the little white room, waiting to get a pill and a half shoved down his throat. I've already apologetically explained that this cat is not very nice and hates people (except me, of course). So one nurse preps the pill, grabs Zorba and attempts to pop the pill. It's a no-go. Zorba immediately spits it back out. Shocker. Hissing ensues.


(release breath)

Take two. (refill lungs with air, note sweating of palms). So the other nurse grabs Zorba by the scruff of the neck to hold him down while the other re-preps the pill and makes a second attempt to stuff it down Zorba's neck. The pill comes flying back out. "This one's strong," nurse number one says.

I begin apologizing while the exasperated first nurse shoots me a look and coldly explains that if she can't get the pill down, I will have to take it home and crush it in some food. "Okay, sure, no problem. I'm really sorry."

Take three. Nurse number two holds his head back again, explaining to me that this is the way to hold the cat appropriately. Nurse number one grabs Zorby's mouth and shoots the pill down. Score! However, blabbernurse number two, consumed with educating me and not paying attention to attack cat, has released her grip at which point Zorba strikes and scores again. Blood is drawn.

"Shit," nurse number two says.

"Oh Golly, are you okay?"

"Sure I'm fine. Let me just get this blood cleaned up." She blubbers on about how it doesn't hurt and better teeth than claws while nurse number one scolds her for not paying attention. They banter back and forth before resuming position to shove the second half pill down Zorba's throat. It is a quick process with everyone on edge and soon after Zorba splits to hide on the weight machine in the corner of the room. The two nurses ask me to go get the second cat and they leave the room.

I return with Radley and begin to notice how incredibly hot it is in this room. I am sweating profusely while trying to remain calm so Radley doesn't get upset. Zorba is still in the corner hissing to himself.

Nurse one returns with a cat box to put Zorba in and another nurse to replace nurse number two. "I thought I'd bring in someone more experienced for your second cat." She says.

I feel horrible and talk about how Radley is better behaved and really, there won't be any more problems. Of course, there aren't as Radley (after all, no one's ever nicknamed him "satan" or "devil cat"). Nurse one and nurse three pop Radley's two pills (he weighs a little more than Zorba) in seconds flat.

"You may put your two cats in the car and then return to pay," instructs nurse number one. I do so quietly and quickly, strained by the whole ordeal.

Then comes the bad news.

As I'm waiting at the counter, the b*tch nurse (aparently the head nurse) comes over and instructs the secretary to call my vet in Waco to have her fax Zorba's records ASAP to check that his rabees shots are updated. She then proceeds to tell me that because a human was involved in the biting episode, Zorba must be quaranteened, even if he is updated on his shots. If evidence shows that his shots are current, his quaranteen location may be my home. An officer of the Animal Clinic will come to check him out today and then again after 11 days. If however his records show him to be not current on his rabees vaccinations, then I will have to leave him to be observed at a shelter.

Oh Lord.

I nod my head and try to will my eyes not to pop out of my head.

Of course, Zorba's shots are current as they soon discover from the fax but I am still given the number to the TLAC and instructed to call. Once at home with both cats in the house, I call the dreaded TLAC and explain that my cat bit the nurse at the vet. I explain that he is up to date on his shots but that the vet told me to call them. "You need to bring your cats down to register them," the lady on the phone says. "Take them down there and register them as my cats and as updated on their shots?" I repeat to make sure I got it. "Yes," She says. "That's it?" I ask again clarifying the part about the records, tags, etc. "Yep," she says again, annoyed.

So I didn't.

Not today. I was already tired from the biting ordeal and if they aren't going to require me to quaranteen Zorba (since they didn't mention it on the phone), then I figure I can take my time getting down there. Zorba and Radley have been through enough for one day.

Can you imagine what would have happened if some man tried to tinker with Zorba's mouth and butt again today?

I don't even want to.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

in the words of Jim Carrey it has been B-E-A-Utiful this week.

but not today. today it is grey and probably (45% likelihood) will get drizzly or rainy later.

but i have to admit that for the first time in a while, the sun is still shining in my soul, remeniscent of the last few days of beauty.

on saturday, kc, ren (his 1/2 weiner 1/2 chihuahua dog) and i went to the dog park. it was fun. the park is leash free, so ren could walk behind us, in front of us, in the trees, wherever she wanted (that kc and i let her go). brave little ren also learned how to swim after kc threw her into the shallow river. it was a great day - sun, shade, exercise and wet dogs.

yesterday kc woke up with the squirts (welcome to the wide-world-of-ann kc, where everyone who knows my business now knows yours). so he stayed home sick from work which meant we got to hang out. so we went on a little walk with ren around the apartment complex, and drooled at the swank pool area the complex offers (which I will use as soon as it stays 80 long enough to warm up the water). in addition, jer came into town last night to work on erin's new computer, so we all got to go out to eat and not worry about being awake past bedtime.

spring break (even if one is supposed to be spending it with their sister in columbia) is awesome. i had a brief rush of panic last night as i lay in bed and thought about going to work tomorrow. then i remembered: spring break!!! no work tomorrow!!!

so i'm spring breakin' it: writing a sermon to preach at fbc austin during holy week, scrapbooking, checkin' email daily, sleeping in late, playing with the babies, etc. etc. etc.

the sun is in my soul this spring break.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

p.s. grandma, please don't be offended by the language and slang - it's contextual. i love you!


Saturday, March 12, 2005

I'm not thrilled with my current job; I can't tell a lie. Subbing at Johnston High School is bringing me down. Although my students provide interesting scenarios for sermons and blogs, they are driving me crazy.

It's the chaos I can't handle, the loud attitudes. Check out what's been said to me:

"Get up off my nuts, miss!"
"I'll throw your skinny ass in the trash can."
"Ooh, I like my women rough."

Not to mention the "f*ck this"es and the "b*tch"es and the "hoe"s. It's driving me nuts. They are generally so loud and so disresptful that one time last week I finally just sat at the teacher's desk, put my head in my hands and gave up. I can't control the chaos. I've even had a nightmare about school recently. Pure insanity.

It's not that my self-esteem or my sense of self worth is affected by the lame or rude comments they say to me, it's just that the negativity is enough to make me lose my mind. Twice last week I almost walked out of a classroom to quit my job.

I admit, there are sweet students too. There's one kid that I've only had twice in class, but he knows me by name and calls out to me in the hallway every time I see him. My supervisor told me on Friday that that's the only time she's seen that kid smile. That makes me feel good. Then there are students who nod at me in the hallway, like to have me as a sub, shake hands with me, even one who is going to bring yarn to school for me to knit him a scarf!!

But they are the minority. And the majority is killing me. Needless to say, this had thwarted my aspirations to be a High School English teacher, and motivated me to crack down on applying for PhD school.

Maybe college kids are the way to go.

Or maybe I need a whole new profession. Know any churches who need a pastor?

I'm unemployed as of May 15th again anyway.

Great. From one great chaos to another.

I love the real world.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Scandalous is dead. I can't believe it. He was in my possession a mere 4 days and the fish is dead.

At least I didn't kill this one. But Emily is going to kill me when she reads this.

So I went to Waco Friday to sing backup for Darrell Shepherd at a coffee shop there. I decided to stay the weekend since this past week was so horrible. Nothing like going "home" to get a second wind. So I stayed with the Eades, scrapbooked with Julie, saw Jeremy's new apartment. Cried a little, laughed a little; it was good.

I left the cats in Erin's care and asked KC to check on Scandalous. Sunday, KC found his bowl nearly knocked off the shelf he resides on (the second one down, right above my music books). So KC returned the vase to its place, put the picture frames that had been knocked off back on the shelf and breathed a sigh of relief.

I however, gasped when I came home to the huge vase topled on its side with no fish in sight. "Radley!" I cursed to myself. My carpet was soaking (still is) with some soggy pictures and journals laying in it. I salvaged the pictures and journals, and began soaking up water. I got out my hairdryer. I felt emotionally dead as the thought of buying another fish was overwhelming, so I just sat on the floor, staring into space, blowdrying the rug.

And so it is. Luke is dead. Scandalous is dead. Radley is full.

What next?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

I killed Luke on Wednesday. It was an accident really. His cage was so dirty. I just had to clean it. All the oxygen had risen to the top to form yellow clumps of dirty bubbles. It was embarassing and negletful. Besides, I'd already cleaned the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, litter box and bathtub. It had been a stressful evening, and I hadn't cleaned all the angst out of my system yet! So I took Luke's bowl to the sink. But after I changed his water, I realized I didn't know where the water purifying bottle was. Did I leave it at my former abode on Knight Circle? Had I placed it in some strategic location only to forget where? Shit-fire. And it was after 9pm, Petco was closed, and I had no choice but to wait until morning to buy some more.

So Thursday came and I went to school, worked all day - even went to the grocery store (located right beside the pet store), knowing that there was something important I needed to buy . . . milk! I had been unable to have cereal that morning because I was out of milk. And what was that other thing . . . oh yeah, Q-tips. I can't live without Q-Tips. And something else . . . what was it? Oh well, I'll get it next time. After all, the grocery store is just a two minute walk away.

That evening after dinner with KC, we went into my room so I could lie down (the week in general had been rather dreadful). But as I sat on my bed, I peered into Luke's clean cage and didn't see him. Panicing, I scoped the cage fearing that the cats had somehow scooped him out. It was then that I saw Luke at the bottom, belly up. The previous evening came back to me in a blur . . . bad news from home, a serious of tears, extreme cleaning episode to combat the fear, no purifying drops for his water, a thought to go to the pet store right after school the next day, the trip to the grocery store instead . . . shit! I killed my fish!

I threw myself on the bed, mustering a few more tears out of my already tired eyes. Just last May I had accidentally killed my two pet hermit crabs (I'd forgotten to water them), and now I'd gone and killed my poor beta! Damn!

Feeling horrible, I called Emily. After all, my dear cat Radley had eaten her goldfish just last year (no ill intent on his part, he just saw the fish in the unprotected bowl and saw a tasty, fresh afternoon snack - story for another time). She wasn't terribly sympathetic, I believe her exact phrase was, "well your ******* cat ate my ******* fish, so I'm glad!" That didn't go over well, so I called my former roommates: "Luke-Roger died." "Oh, we're sorry - do you want us to buy you another fish?"

Thankfully KC had disappeared during these conversations and reappeared with a nerds-necklace (a string of nerd candy all stuck together - gross!) and a beautiful but red beta. Seeing my pain, he had given Luke a ride "on the porcelein express" and run across the street to Petco. Smart move on KC's part, and oh the new fish was so pretty! I wanted to give him a girl's name, but KC wouldn't let me. He said the fish was a feisty one - that he had lurched at KC from within the jar when he picked him up to buy him. Add that to the mishap of his predecessor's death and we decided on Scandalous. Scandalous the fish. My beautiful but angry, red Scandalous.

As I reflect on the evening now, it seems so surreal (like most everything else in my life right now). When I wrote my last blog about Luke, I was worried about my sister and brother-in-law. Now the worry is realized and the truth exposed; my fish is dead and Scandalous has taken his place. Not something I planned or even understood until now.

My first fish was named after my favorite gospel, my second after a tragic death. I can only imagine what comes next. Sometimes I wish my life were a little less exciting. They say boring isn't half bad. There's nothing wrong with two cats and an apartment. Perhaps I don't need the frills of hermit crabs or betas. But they sure are pretty to look at. But dangerous too: easy to forget about and easy to kill. I guess one has to be more careful with the more fragile pieces of life. Hopefully this time I'm up for the responsibility.