Friday, April 29, 2011

friday five: royal I dos

It's a royal friday five!

1) Will you be watching? If so, is this your first royal wedding?
I'm up and tuned in! This is my third royal wedding, having watched Diana and Charles tie the knot, and then Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.

2) The bride has chosen as her wedding cake a fruitcake. Where do you stand on this pastry?
What is she thinking? No, really, I'm hoping that this isn't the fruitcake that doubles as a door stop on this side of the pond, but truth be told, I haven't paid close attention to this detail.

3) The dress code for royal weddings has not seen the same sad decline as that for most other weddings. If you could design your own royal wedding hat, what color would it be and what special decoration would it feature?
I would, undoubtedly, wear a dress of teal (my most flattering color), so the hat would have to match (yes, that does sound wretched, doesn't it?). To lighten the mood disrupted by the hat I would decorate it with a cluster of adorable sheep.

4)  Any chance the Archbishop of Canterbury is using a Sustainable Sermon (tip of the mitre to the Vicar of Hogsmeade)? What would you tell the couple were you offering the homily?
Be yourself, and in that allegiance to self commit the best of who you are to the other. Laugh and cry together, kiss and make up, forgive and hold fast to one another, and be sure not to leave your dirty dishes in the sink.

5) Believe it or not, kathrynzj is getting up early mostly to see the wedding dress. By the time this post is up, the world will have seen it. Did you like it?
I think Catherine is a beautiful woman, and her taste in clothes is exquisite. I expected the dress to be in the vein of traditional style, but it is much more traditional than I expected. That said, it is elegant, stately, and beautiful. Well done, Catherine!  PS, Pippa's dress is the bomb!

Mazel Tov to you both!

Alas, I have to scoot off to a breakfast to hear Al Gore! I'll be back.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

thankful thursday

After the series of intense storms that have blown through the state (and the south!) during the last couple of days, I am thankful that neither we or anyone we know suffered anything more than soggy yards. Brooks and streams are very swollen, but receding quickly. Some communities in other regions have significant flooding and tornado damage. This time around, we escaped.

A little "unity breakfast" for state democratic leaders is taking place Friday morning (I'm shocked they didn't consult the calendar of the royal family, but what can I say). Al Gore will be on hand to speak, and the price tag for entry is way beyond consideration for us. BUT! Ken and I will there as volunteers. The DVR will have to do for wedding moments.This, after all the trouble I went to to determine what hat I would wear!

When we returned from BRC last week we came home with a new car! Well, new to us. It's a 1993 Toyota Camry that had belonged to Trisha's grandparents. Trisha has driven it for years, but as problems cropped up (mostly minor, but annoying and inconvenient), the car's use declined. Trisha and Kenneth both have other wheels now (and Trisha's Lola is a magnificent specimen of a Toyota Sequoia) and the poor Camry was languishing on the sidelines. Being a one-car family has become an increasing challenge for us, so the Camry was offered "as is," and Ken is an ecstatic recipient.

Cross stitch project number three is finished and ready for framing! It's for Trisha and Kenneth for their anniversary. My current project is a UFO (unfinished object) from too many years ago. I've got more of these than I would like to acknowledge, but now that I'm back in the stitching groove there is hope that they will be completed and 1) be given to the intended recipient at long last (like this first UFO), or 2) find a home here with us.
Finally today I am thankful for upcoming vacation! We'll be at Melrose next week for some serious R&R, and we can hardly wait.

Until tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

tuesday tickle

Disclaimer: I try not to bunch posts with political content, but it can't be helped that what I relate below happened to occur when it did. 

We attended a town hall meeting last night held by freshman congresswoman Diane Black. She's not actually our congresswoman, but a portion of our county is among her constituents. I had never attended an event like this so I joined Ken at the last minute as he headed to the courthouse.

Attendance was light, about 25-30 people, most of whom were supporters of Mrs. Black, and decidedly conservative, if not Tea Party. As she allowed several times during the meeting, I will note that Mrs. Black and I agree to disagree on most issues. That said: I thought she handled herself well, refrained from badmouthing, and though clearly partisan in her outlook she seems earnest in doing her job well.

The meeting went smoothly until the time when questions came from the floor. The democrats in the room did well to remain restrained until one couple referred to President Obama as an Arab (that was a new one to me!). I don't recall the immediate verbal reaction to that, but it wasn't long before one woman challenged the couple on their statement, asking them a question that ended with, "or do you not like him because he's black?" The crowd went wild, and you could hear the collective hackles go up around the room in concert with the protesting voices. There was a loud response, "he's not black!" (another new one), and then the woman who claimed that Obama is Arab asked, "are you calling me a racist?" The exchange continued in this vein for a brief time, during which the woman who was affronted by the perception that she was being called a racist looked at Ken (who had said nothing) and said, "you need to get informed." The county sheriff, who was present (and off duty) stepped in to calm things down and restore some order to the room.  People who had stood up to engage in the heated exchange sat down. And then the aforementioned woman turned our direction and said, "I am not a racist. I didn't even grow up in the south!" 

You'll understand if that phrase appears on this blog now and again!

Monday, April 25, 2011

monday madness

Okay, let's kick off this Easter Week of celebrating new life and moving beyond the world of death and bad habits by laughing at local politics. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports the following as it pertains to certain action in our local legislature.
Both [state speaker] Ramsey and [house majority leader] McCormick said they see no problem with the Legislature stepping into the domain of local governments in areas like the anti-gay bias ordinance [of metro Nashville] and efforts to block cities from enacting “living wage” ordinances.

“I’d say the states created the federal government,” McCormick said. “The state also created the local governments. So we do have a role. When they can’t come to some kind of logical conclusion at the local level, it is legitimate for us to step in.”

He said it is “also legitimate for us to step in to create a consistent business environment across the state.”
Let me pause for a moment for you to absorb that.

These "leaders" take issue with what they perceive as the federal government compromising states' rights, but see no problem jumping in to take control of local government decisions (with which they object--a bit different from being unable to take action due to financial or other resource constraints).

And Mr. McCormick needs, at a minimum, some remedial work on the history of our government. The federal government was created by representatives of geographic regions seeking unity and the common good. Once formed, states petitioned the government to become part of that body. Tennessee became a state June 1, 1796, but it was formed resulting from a donation of land to the United States by North Carolina.

Show me where, constitutionally, that determining "logical conclusions" is up to state government, or where there is any semblance of a notion that government has a role in creating consistent business environments (other than occupational health and safety regulations). I believe that our leaders are elected by the people, for the people. Except of course those that are elected by corporations for corporations.

Makes me kind of itchy to return to New England. Yankees may be reserved, but the roots of our country's origins run deep there, and common sense is considerably more prevalent than where I now hang my hat.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

easter notebook

Outside my window … 
a half-mowed front yard (push mower! I only have so much stamina in the heat)
I am thinking … 
about Kenneth and Trisha, celebrating their first anniversary today
I am thankful for …
I am hoping …
that the readers of this blog enjoy a blessed Eastertide
On my mind …
empty tombs
Noticing that …
in spite of the fact that I didn't reach my weight goal by Easter, there is evidence of weight loss in how my clothes fit. (BRC didn't do me any favors in terms of gastronomic options, even though we had a cooler of good stuff!)
A few plans for the week …
chilling out after Holy Week and Easter, and looking forward to watching the Royal Wedding
From the kitchen … 
lots of healthy stuff and some diet-friendly recipes to try
Around the house …
the usual: declutter, dust, vacuum, steam-clean
One of my favorite things …
coffee with cinnamon
A picture I am sharing …
some of our Maundy Thursday agape feast

Friday, April 22, 2011


I always find blogging on Significant Days to be a challenge. It seems that just about everyone blogs about what is significant. To do likewise honors the day, but it feels like my voice folds into the mix of voices and mine becomes one of the masses. Or, to quote a college professor's snarky answer to a question I once posed to him, "you and a cast of thousands." And yet, to blog on a different topic seems somehow disrespectful, as though the purpose of the Day is somehow being dismissed. On holy days, like today, I feel a particular pressure to say something profound or meaningful about Good Friday. I'm a clergy type, after all. It's what clergy types do.


This Good Friday coincides with Earth Day. Thoughtful minds are also blogging about that. A friend posted on facebook wondering what was good about this day. That has actually given me pause. Thus...

What is good about today is that when humanity failed, God triumphed.

What is good about today is that in spite of betrayal, hearts were drawn back to where they belonged. Temptation failed to have lasting power.

What is good about today is that women stood fast.

What is good about today is that the obedience of Jesus to the righteousness of God's kingdom opened a way for all the world to experience God's glory.

What is good about today is that minds were changed and hearts were transformed.

What is good about today is that darkness was vanquished by light.

What is good about today is that hope became real.

What is good about today is that Jesus' last act was one of compassion and forgiveness.

What is good about today is that the occasion to relive it stirs our souls and our consciences, and breaks our hearts.

What is good about today is that the world continues to heal.

What is good about today is that there is no room for hate, only sorrow.

What is good about today is that God exceeds our expectations.

What is good about today is that whether we want to or not, we think about Jesus dying on the cross.

What is good about today is that it leads to tomorrow, and tomorrow leads to resurrection.

If you are reading this may this day bless you with all goodness, in the name of the One to whom this day belongs.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

family time

The best part of the BRC weekend was being with family. Although most of it wasn't leisurely, I count on every occasion with our grandchildren as an opportunity to get to know them, and for them to get to know us. It tugs on my heart that they don't recognize us or have a bond with us, just one of the reasons I am so grateful that they will soon be close enough to see them more regularly.

Luke, now three and a half, is fond of contorting his face! I don't tend to keep those pictures, though there are a few, like this one. He is cautious, frequently in motion, and smart as a whip. His caution is expressed in phrases like this one: "Mama, don't let that man talk to me!" Cross, one and a half, is fearless. He scrambled up and over parts of the jungle-gym without hesitation, over and over again. He is getting better and better at forming words, though they are still hard to understand. I love when he hears a new word and tries to sound it out just after you've spoken it.

Here are a few moments I cherish.

 I forgot to mention the team t-shirts for the competition! Nearly every team had family and friends showing their support and making them readily identifiable by means of colorful and distinctive t-shirts. It occurred to me too late in the game to try to photograph as many as I could. Our shirt can be seen below. At the time they needed to be ordered we didn't know the team number, so Trisha stenciled our number on the sleeve of each shirt (except the boys shirts, which were too small for the stencil). This picture wasn't taken to show the shirt. It captures a father-son moment where Travis is explaining to Luke that when you blow on embers (a stick from the fire), it makes the embers glow.
Here are a few I downloaded from a Ft. Benning site. You'll  need to click to enlarge for a better view. And in case you're wondering (as I did), the HE>I is "He is greater than I," a reference to Christ. I love that the dog has a shirt.

Tomorrow we'll be back to our regular programming. See ya!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

BRC day two

"Day two?" you ask. Team 22 may be out of the competition, but Ranger Kenneth is on site the next morning at 8:00 to cheer on and coach his comrades. Ken and I woke up to an empty house Saturday morning to learn that he'd headed out to the field. We put together a quick breakfast and packed the cooler for the day, then headed to base.

Ken had learned from the Ft. Benning newspaper that an airborne memorial had just been commemorated, and he wanted to stop to see it and take pictures on our way to Todd Field, site of Saturday's events. Ken was 82nd Airborne, part of NATO forces in Italy, and retired from Ft. Campbell, home of the 101st Airborne. His grandfather had been a glider pilot in WWI, and Kenneth is an Airborne Ranger, so this is a significant place for Ken. The day was picture perfect.

While we had all been sleeping during the night the remaining competitors had been enduring night orienteering. Just like the daytime, they found their way through the woods with a map and a compass wearing their ruck sacks. Only it was at night. As it happened, the tornado spree that wrecked havoc on the southeast over the weekend made a visit to Ft. Benning during night orienteering, which had to be cut short. By morning the wind continued to be brisk, but the skies were incredibly clear and the temperatures perfect.

The Day Stakes, as they are called, focus on skills unrelated to marching (an intended break from the close to 40 miles undertaken to this point). The most interesting challenge was specifically combat-related: the rescue of a wounded soldier from a downed helicopter. The scene was staged in a hot zone, and teams entered under fire to find a soldier with a partially blown away leg inside the helicopter. Smoke bombs simulated that the helicopter itself was on fire. The teams were to assess injury, load the body onto a litter, and en route to helicopter evacuation encounter barbed wire and a wall, under which and over which they had to navigate themselves and their victim.
These events included sound effects, and just so you know: in real life the grenades are louder and less explosive than they appear on TV and in the movies!

When the teams had completed the Day Stakes they prepared for a 25-mile road march. At night. With rucks. The road march is often the breaking point for many, who are so exhausted and physically depleted that they are unable to reach the end. Every year the challenges that make up the competition are changed in some regard, and the road march is no exception. Part of the mental engagement is to be prepared for anything, including the length of the march, deviations from the path to address a situation, or interruptions for something as seemingly inane as to recite the Ranger Creed.

Day three shows no mercy. A one-mile obstacle course that includes 26 obstacles situated in hill and valley terrain tests strength and stamina. This is followed by a helicopter drop into a pond, a swim to shore (with rucks, though they're not on the body), a ladder climb and zip line run to drop back into the water, another climb and "log" cross, after which there is a rope cross and another drop into the water. All of these events are timed, adding another element of competence into the competition. The final challenge is a three-mile run to the finish line, this time with assault packs instead of rucks. (first three photos taken by John D. Helms, the last one is mine)
The arrow in the photo below is pointing to the "pole" cross. The little yellow blob is a stair-step. Remember, this exercise is undertaken after 48+ hours of competition with very little rest. 
Click to enlarge for a better view.
Thus ends the Best Ranger Competition 2011.

The timing was fortunate for us as a family. Ashley & Co. flew in from Texas late Friday night, joining us for Saturday's and Sunday's events. It was great to see them and our grandsons before they headed up to Augusta to look for housing. Travis completes his residency in June and will be assigned to Ft. Gordon beginning in July. Just in time for baby number three! Pictures of the family tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing our adventure!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

BRC* 2011

*Best Ranger Competition 
( Photo by Melissa Anderson).

Wow. Let me begin with that.

I knew that the Best Ranger Competition was a big deal. I knew that it was an honor for the men competing to be there. I had no idea just how big a deal it is. 50 teams representing a spectrum of army units with Rangers gave it their all for as much of the 60-hour, non-stop competition as they could. About half made it through. 

The journey began at 6 AM Friday morning. It was still dark at Ft. Benning, so spectator visibility was difficult, but we waited behind the rope as each team was introduced and ran by. Kenneth and Jacques, one of three teams from the Army National Guard, were Team 22. Once they had made their jog past the assembled supporters and dignitaries, the teams gathered to start a 3-mile run at the sound of a horn blast. And, they were off.

As they reached the end of the run each Ranger slung their 80+-pound ruck sacks onto their backs and began a twelve-mile march. This was followed by a ten-mile canoe trip, and then a hike to the firing range. There was been no break up to this point. Because of some malfunctioning equipment fewer teams could compete simultaneously at the first shooting portion of the competition. Most of the competitors took advantage of the down time to eat, put their feet up (literally) and get some rest.
  Photo by MAJ Kamil Sztalkoper, US Army Forces Command, FORSCOM PAO.
Kenneth hits his target, as evidenced by that plume of dust in the distance (in the circle)

After the first shoot they donned their ruck sacks again and trekked three miles to the next range: the moving target shoot. By my count, our boy hit every target. Next stop: ten miles of orienteering. It was here that Team 22 ran into trouble.

A little background. Kenneth qualified for this competition in November. Among those who competed to represent Rangers now serving in the Army National Guard, he took the top spot (yay!!!). The top six qualifiers advanced to BRC, and formed three teams of two. In January Kenneth and his partner began preparing for the competition full time. Yes, full time. That was his duty assignment. Last month Kenneth's partner got himself in a bit of trouble and was pulled from the team. A new teammate, Jacques, stepped in. Going into BRC, Jacques had three weeks of preparation. Where most competitors fail in BRC is in underestimating the demands on the body. Physical preparedness is one portion of doing well. Strength and endurance are key. Mental readiness and "beastiness" is essential. Hydration is critical.

In spite of Kenneth's coaching regarding hydration leading up to BRC, Jacques focused on his physical preparation. During the canoe paddle he didn't take water, against Kenneth's urging. By the time they reached the shooting range Jacques' body was parched. He began to drink, but the demands of the competition exceeded his preparation. During the orienteering segment he vomited multiple times when he tried to drink. At the conclusion of the orienteering each team was taken by helicopter to an urban assault course. They were to have fast-roped from the helicopter into the compound, but high winds forced what is called a hot landing (landing in a combat zone puts the helicopter and its passengers at greater risk), where the teams essentially stepped onto the ground. At the assault course they cleared buildings (assuring no enemy presence, and securing any enemy that might be present), scaled walls, ascended to and descended from rooftops by ladder and rope, and carried an injured soldier by litter to safe ground.

It continues to amaze us that Jacques made it through the assault course. Upon completion and finally in the competitor holding area where rest and nourishment were possible, he collapsed. He couldn't keep down food or water. Attempts to help restore his physical condition failed. When the doctor arrived to check him out there was no blood pressure. The team was done.

Ken, Trisha and I convoyed to the hospital to tend to Jacques, whose wife couldn't be located. It took four bags of fluids before he could be discharged. Even with that addition, when Jacques weighed himself the next morning he was 8 pounds lighter than when he began the competition.

During the twelve hours of competition in which they engaged Team 22 covered 28 miles on foot, most of that with the weight of their ruck sacks. They weren't the first team to fall out. Three were done before the shooting range, and others continued to drop along the way, mostly due to hydration issues. We were all disappointed, but Kenneth was a champ. As he told us later, he was prepared to stop in order to spare Jacques the brutality of what his body was experiencing. Jacques, to his credit, insisted on continuing as long as he could so as not to let Kenneth down. They proved to be a good team.

We are enormously proud of Kenneth. He is convinced that he could have completed the course, and felt that his training  had prepared him well. Even so, he is already making plans to alter the training strategy to compete next year, having a better idea of what is expected, and how his body will be challenged. It is too soon to know who else might be part of the event and how a team might be formed, but Kenneth and Jacques are ready to work together again.

More tomorrow.

Monday, April 11, 2011

monday notebook

Outside my window … 
the sun is shining (for now), dogwood and iris are in bloom, winds are gusty, and the lawn is covered with whirlybirds from the leafing maple trees
I am thinking … 
that I will grow my hair long enough to donate to Locks of Love
I am thankful for … 
the new RevGalBlogPals facebook page! I've already received a helpful response to a query I posted (thanks, Martha!); spending time with friends over the weekend that was rejuvenating
I am hoping … 
for a productive week with no surprises
On my mind … 
contemplating how best to be heard as one voice in the cacophony of chaos that passes for public discourse
Noticing that …
we are overloaded with an assortment of condiments in our refrigerator
A few plans for the week …
finishing up the current cross stitch project: an anniversary gift for Kenneth and Trisha (their first!); delivering said project, along with the two others, to their intended recipients when we see them all this weekend at Ft. Benning; cheering on Kenneth as he competes in the army-wide Best Ranger competition beginning Friday
From the kitchen … 
packing a cooler of healthy food for our roadtrip
Around the house … 
cleaning the kitchen and clearing off the dining table so that I can change tablecloths; putting away the Christmas tree and boxes (it's said, isn't it?)
One of my favorite things … 
the luxury of Sunday afternoons when I don't succumb to a nap
A picture I am sharing …
blooming in our yard this morning... 

Saturday, April 09, 2011

such a deal!

Is this not the cutest tote ever
And not only is it cute, it's insulated and it stands up all by itself 
(in other words, it doesn't slouch)!

The tote comes with the goodies pictured for $25 (a $35 value) 
 you can get the tote by itself for $12.50

It is only available this month, so I encourage you to snap up a few before it's too late! What are some of it's purposes?

Lunch = money savings!
Baby bottles to keep chilled while on the go
Juice boxes for kids when you go to the park, zoo, etc….
Cold snacks while traveling
Cold sodas and water while traveling (this saves a ton of money!)
Wine or champagne carrier
Wet bathing suits home from the gym or pool
Carry frozen groceries home from store to stay cold
Soccer/Baseball Moms.....carry treats for soccer/baseball games 
Gift bag for that most-special gift
Bring to the beach to keep food/drinks chilled


the tote can be personalized with the recipients name, initial or monogram! 

The tote, as well as some other gifts sets available this month, can be used for :
*Wedding/Shower gifts
*Going off to college
*Anniversary gifts
*Birthday gifts
*Mother’s Day
*Godmother Gift
*Girlfriend gifts
*Teacher Appreciation
*Boss’s Day
*Secretary’s Day
*Grandparent’s Day
*Thank you gift
*Hostess gift

*Just because!

 Click here to place your order!

Order yours today, and remember, after this month they won't be available! 

Friday, April 08, 2011

friday five: light on the horizon

At RevGals Dorcas invites us to share ways that our life is moving toward resurrection and new life.

1) Family! Our daughter and her family will move in June from San Antonio to Augusta, GA, just before grandchild #3 is due to grace the world in July. Their closer proximity will mean that we will actually be able to see them with some regularity, something that has been difficult in the last three years. We don't know our grandsons, and we yearn for relationships with them as well as deepening relationships with their parents.

2) Creating. Just after Christmas I returned to a craft I haven't done since seminary--cross stitch. It turns out to be the perfect way to accomplish something while watching television, and I am enjoying watching projects emerge from a blank canvas to a finished product. I am also returning to scrapbooking, which offers creative challenges that are exercising a different part of my brain. There is a huge, inner deep sigh reflecting this new reality that creativity is filling a larger place in my life.

3) There's some unbloggable stuff going on, but I can share that some significant change will be coming my way. Hard change, but with it opportunity. Although this is a scary time, I feel light and uplifted. There are some anxious days ahead, to be sure, but all will be well.

4) Me and Jesus. As noted in yesterday's post, a new "relationship" with Jesus is emerging through the work I've been doing for our Lenten program. This is a mammoth thing for me, and in the same way that my creative soul is sighing, so is my spiritual being letting loose a deep sigh of gladness.

5) As winter weather wanes our yard and gardens are ripe for new life of their own. I'm not good at digging and turning over soil, but I've always enjoyed weeding, so I see new life for our gardens in the coming week.s My husband is already at work on his vegetable beds, but I've always been a flower girl. I'm looking forward to color and blooms.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

thankful thursday

*     Today is National No Housework Day!

*     For no particular reason I'm in a very good mood today. That might be because there is no agenda for the day and I can continue cleaning/reorganizing areas of my office. Not to mention that it's beautiful outside. Finally! I may actually spend a little time doing some very necessary weeding... 
*     Yesterday I picked up the recently framed cross stitch birth record I did for Cross (above)! I never did show you the framed one for Luke (below). The color of the mat isn't true. It's more of a light aqua (as in, greenish). Some day, when I'm not late blogging and I have lots of time to play around with how to photograph items framed behind glass without capturing reflections, glare from a flash, or shadows from overhead lighting, I'll learn how to show work like these to advantage! Until that day arrives, however, you'll just have to use your imagination and go with these. But since this post is about thankfulness, let me just say how thankful I am that these are ready for delivery next week! Yay!!!!!

*     Speaking of next week, we're heading south a week from today to watch Kenneth compete in the Army's best Ranger competition at Ft. Benning. Hoo-rah! This is an army-wide event, so it's a pretty big deal. Big enough to miss Palm Sunday at church!.  I can't believe that we haven't seen Trisha and Kenneth since their return from their honeymoon, almost a year ago. Lots of hugs and kisses ahead!

*     As noted in earlier posts, I'm using Borg and Crossan's book The Last Week to lead discussion during our Lenten program. I'm not sure what other people are getting out of this journey, but it has been transformational for me. I'm discovering the emphasis on justice, which makes so much sense about the Jesus I always thought was there. Way cool. I'm also discovering how much the Church misses the boat about what our mission is, too. Hmm...  Anyway, I'm thankful for the shot in the arm this has been for me, spiritually.

*     I had an awesome appointment yesterday with someone I can't tell you about just yet. Let's just say there were some great "aha" moments that have relieved me of some burdens I've carried for a long time. Ahhh.

*     I'm actually losing weight! The Dr. Oz diet I'm following is working for me, and I am mega-grateful about that! Some of his recipes need serious improvement, but there are a couple of them that very palatable.

The Bug prompted this post, so if you want to see what other people are thankful for, head on over!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Although we will be out of town and miss the event, our parish is preparing to experience the Seder, the annual remembrance celebrated by Jews all over the world to commemorate their deliverance and freedom from slavery in Egypt. This is not the first year that we have held a Seder, but the institutional memory is weak, people have come and gone, and, well, it needs some work.

Last night I was searching online for a text for a Seder that we could use, and this morning as I was listening to the news I recalled a portion of it.

Why was the lamb chosen for sacrifice? Because this is the animal that the Egyptians worshiped. The shank-bone on our Seder plate symbolizes our rejection of idolatry. Idolatry has taken a different form in every age. In our own time, we have witnessed the results of idolatry when people place complete, unquestioning faith in someone or something other than God. This occurred in Germany, where eleven million souls, including six million of our own people, were tragically and cruelly lost. The presence of the shank-bone on our Seder plate reminds us of our obligation to combat idolatry whenever and wherever we encounter it, in order to insure the spiritual freedom of all.
Idolatry. Apparently at risk in this potential government shutdown is pay to our soldiers. Does that not slap you in the face? The "principle" of  reducing the size of government has become an idol to certain members of our elected leadership. It is more important to them to hold fast to their principles than to pass a budget that is far from perfect. A budget that will take the edge off of the pain of communities that are cutting back on the expense of school buses, where teachers are demoralized, and city transportation is getting the ax and people can't get to their jobs. This is a budget in peril because corporations aren't paying their share of taxes, and some aren't paying any. This is a budget in peril because tax-free living has become an idol to people who believe they are entitled to live freely while bearing no responsibility for the cost of that freedom.

We must all bear the burden of the life we inherited from those who came before us and paved the way for public education, job training, family leave, and discrimination-busting bravery and acts. To name but a few things. All. Of. Us. Our military and their families are already making the kind of sacrifices that some of us already understand and others of us don't want to entertain in our imaginations. It is beyond unacceptable to take more from them. And because they put it on the line for you, and me, and the millions they have never met and will never know, we are in their debt.

The idolatrous members of congress need to read the Gospel as many times as it takes to internalize the message that what we do to the least of any among us we do to what is divine and holy. There but for the grace of God, remember?

Honor God, therefore. Honor those who have given all. Honor those who love them. Honor the rest of us who are grateful. Don't make me get out of my chair.


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