Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Part Two: The Ship

My Person and I have embarked on an Adriatic cruise.

I was wary. I get motion sick just riding on swing sets and elevators. I excused myself from the theater and threw up in the bathroom during that Captain-I-Got-Attacked-By-Somalie-Pirates movie. Plus the only other ship movie I've ever seen is Titanic, so this added to my anxiety. But my sister is a doctor, so, loaded with drugs and patches, I boarded on Nov. 18th. This is my view every morning. Cue jealousy.
There are a lot of people on board this ship... and most of them are old. By "old" I mean my parents would be in the younger crowd here. I've thoroughly scoped it out. I can tell you how many sets of parents with young kids (4), how many families with teenagers (3), how many gay couples (4), and how many random youngish couples in their 20s or 30s (eh, maybe 8).  And according the the lady couple we met who travels together on these cruises all the time, there is officially one (1) single man on board who boarded the ship by himself (there is apparently an art to cruising - more details on this later).

These numbers aren't exact of course (except the single guy one - the ladies actually go to the photo station and scope out all the pics that the photographers take of couples, families and parties when we embark. So they know - one single man who got on by himself. I told you, for cruise professionals, its a fine art). There are 2000 people on board and I only see these people during meal times (and there are like 7 restaurants on board, and two different dinner times (we're at the 8:30 slot), and 15 levels on this ship. So... I might be off by a handful in one category or another.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My Adriatic Tour Part One: Rome

You can't imagine what its like here.

My mother's full-time job for 30 years was to teach Latin (and French), so you can probably imagine what it was like at home. Occasionally our bedtime stories included books with images of Greco-Roman gods and stories of valor and indiscretion. In the summertime, (when my mother wasn't drowning amidst the teenagers at work and three flamboyant daughters at home), Tuesday was fun day, so once a week she would take us to a museum or art show, or whatever was culturally beautiful and educational all at once (there is the obvious exception of World's of Fun - but I attribute those excursions to my grandparents anyway).
But all the books and museums in the world couldn't prepare me for what I saw in Rome... the Colosseum (built just 2-4 years after the fall of the Jerusalem Temple) with its cages for wild animals and men alike... the remarkably preserved Roman ruins sprinkled throughout the city - columns, floors, temples ... the Pantheon with its remarkable gold dome - architectural genius... and Saint Peter's Basilica which borrowed gold from the Pantheon for its own remarkable decorations.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

A Whirlwind of Change - 3 Years Later

A Whirlwind of Change

This is the third time I've delivered a version of this sermon. The first was at Lakeshore Baptist in Waco, Texas in 2004, the second was at Sanctuary in Tarrytown in 2010 and the third was last Sunday at First Baptist of Austin, the church I worked at from September 2005-October 2010. You may listen to the spoken words at First Austin's Website - "2013-10-27" will get you there, but be fair warned, I was a little weepy. While this is an impassioned sermon about change and loss, I did not expect to be as affected as I was. I attribute this to several realities in my life some of which I share in the sermon and others that remain hidden in my heart. Plus, this was my first time "back" at First Austin in a pastoral capacity. While I have helped with weddings and funerals since I left my position there, and performed with Trinity Street Players in Blood Brothers last year, this was my first time back to the pulpit. It was an honor to be asked back by my former boss and my former congregation, and a testimony to my journey these past three years that I was able to say yes. I've wrestled with calling... from the stage to the pulpit to the microphone to the computer - who am I? What should I do with my one wild and precious life? This fall has proved a ministerial season for me: four weddings and a funeral (yep, it's true), three lectures at UBC in Austin and finally preaching last Sunday at First Austin. No theatre this fall for Ann Catherine... no Les Mis, no Man of La Mancha, no Falsettos - too many performance conflicts. So unbeknownst to me, a season of ministry began in September and is now winding down. And amidst the winds of change in my own life, I preached this sermon about a man and a mentor and the great wind that blew over him. 
Enjoy (italics is sung). 

What can I do with my obsession?
With the things I cannot see?
Is there madness in my being?
Is it the wind that moves the trees?
Sometimes you’re further than the moon
Sometimes you’re closer than my skin
And you surround me like a winter fog
You come and burn me with a kiss
And my heart burns for you
And my heart burns

Elisha was obsessed, and Elijah (his master) had only three trips left to make before the Lord would take him away. Gilgal, Jericho and the Jordan all needed some final work done before he left. Elijah had anointed Elisha, and had just a few ends to tie up before he knew God would call him home.

We don’t know why he didn’t want Elisha to accompany him. Perhaps he wanted to finish those last three visits by himself. Perhaps he needed time to think or reflect before he left the earth. Maybe he worried about his disciple Elisha, and thought the trips and the whirlwind would be too much for him in these last few days. Or maybe he was tired of always being followed around by an obsessive student. But whatever the reason, three times Elijah told Elisha, “No, don’t come with me,” and three times Elisha replied, “Not gonna happen; I will not leave you.”

It’s almost humorous reading the text, for in each scenario the same thing happens. “Don’t come with me Elisha.” “Too late,” Elisha replies. Elisha’s obsession about staying with Elijah reminds me of the beginning of the book of Ruth when she refuses to return to her own county but vows to stay with Naomi instead.  It reminds me of Sam’s allegiance to Frodo, Sandy's following of the Little Orphan Annie, or of C3PO to R2D2.