Signs

Holy Communion – Cabin on the James River

A recent WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme was “signs.” I snapped this picture during our staff retreat back in September. One of our church members let us use their cabin along the James River outside of Lynchburg. It is not a sign in the traditional sense, but theologically it is one of our most important signs. The bread and the cup are signs of the body and blood of Christ. They become signs to the amazing grace extended to all of us.

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5 VeggieTales Activity Cards

With the release of the new VeggieTales film, Beauty and the Beet, here are five activity cards that would be great for family time or to use in a preschool or children’s ministry setting. 

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Scandal 3.10: A Door Marked Exit

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“I’ve committed a sin.”

Last week’s episode ended with Sally calling Cyrus and uttering those words – “I’ve committed a sin.” This week’s episode takes us back prior to that call to show us what exactly happened. Sally is fighting with her husband, Daniel. Cyrus has pictures of Daniel having sex with his husband James. Sally tells Daniel, “You have released a snake into our garden,” talking about Cyrus, who she knows will not be able to let this go.  Daniel tells her that she knew what she was getting into when she married him – aka, “Sally, you knew I was gay.” Then, Daniel tells her that he is done, and that she cannot win without him. Sally can’t handle it. So, she takes a letter opener to his back. And with blood scattered across her face, she calls Cyrus.

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VeggieTales: Beauty and the Beet (2014)

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Beauty-and-the-beet-cover-art“There are some who are hard to love.”

The family musical group The VeggieTones are starting to make it big when they get the invitation to play at Vegtable Square Garden. On the way, the family is forced to pull over due to a fierce snowstorm. They seek shelter at the inn owned by Mr. Beet. However, they have no money. They have to do chores around the hotel, including being the entertainment each evening.

This VeggieTales story is based on the classic Beauty and the Beast story.  Here, the Beet, much like the Beast, has walled himself off from other people – uh, veggies. His staff is timid around him, careful not to anger him. His inn has received poor reviews (only one star) because of his lack of hospitality.

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“Thank You, Jesus!”

Sometime ago a new family started attending our church. They have three children, including a little girl named Rachel.

One Sunday, after church, her mother told me that during church Rachel was calling out to me, but instead of calling my name, she was saying, “Jesus.”

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Interview: Veggie Tales’ Mike Nawrocki

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Telling the story of God’s unconditional love

Next week a brand new VeggieTales DVD will be released, “Beauty and the Beet.” In this new show, a Veggie twist of the classic story Beauty and the Beast, Mirabelle (voiced by country music’ Kellie Pickler) and her family band, the Veggie Tones, are on their way to life-changing, career-promoting gig at Vegetable Square Garden. In the midst of a snowstorm, their car breaks down, and they find themselves singing for their supper for the cranky hotel manager Mr. Beet.

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The Longer I Serve

 

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After visiting my grandparents (PaPa & NaNa) one day this summer, I left marveled at these two witnesses. PaPa is 92 and Nana is 87. They have lived long and fruitful lives. PaPa stationed in Europe during World War II. NaNa growing up on a farm in rural Hanover County. They raised three children, grandparented eight grandchildren and six plus great-grandchildren. With one more on the way.

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Dolphin Tale 2’s “Brave Souls”

Dolphin Tale was a surprise hit in the theaters in 2011. Enough of a surprise for the film makers to create a sequel to the family-friendly film. Dolphin Tale 2 continues the narrative of Winter, the brave dolphin whose incredible rescue and recovery (complete with a groundbreaking prosthetic tail), made her a symbol of hope and perseverance to many.

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#ALS #Icebucketchallenge

photo by M. Vest

photo by M. Vest

Last night I received a text from a church member and reader of this blog, Linda, to do the ALS ice bucket challenge. Today, the senior pastor and music minister joined me and we three together accepted the challenge. (The video is below).

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Good Will Hunting (1997)

Good-Will-Hunting-movie-posterWill Hunting (Matt Damon) is a young man who is living on the edges headed toward total self-destruction. During the day he is a janitor at MIT, at night he is partying at bars with his buddies, picking and getting into fights. While he reads everything and anything he can get his hands on, he hides that intelligence. He may not be a student at MIT or Harvard, but he has a brilliance that baffles the smartest MIT professors.

Mostly, Will Hunting is in pain. His childhood has been filled with abuse, neglect, and abandonment. He hides from that pain, while acting out in that pain. It leads him to being jailed after hitting a police officer during a fight on a black top basketball court. In the meantime, Professor Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgård) has been searching for Will because Will is the only person on campus who has solved an  unsolvable math problem.

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Healing from the Unimaginable

Originally posted on GLIDE:

Beth and Nick Solstice Parade

Since I heard of Robin Williams death, I cannot stop thinking of two sentences from my own son’s suicide note:

“I know that there are people who will be deeply negatively affected by this, and I am truly sorry.  There is no excuse for what I have done, and I ask forgiveness.”

“deeply negatively affected” – Nicholas, Robin, you had no idea.

I wonder where his wife and his children were when they found out.  I had been out for a nice dinner with a friend and was home watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind with one eye open.  I hadn’t seen it since I was a kid. 

When the phone rang, I thought it was Nick.  The night before, we had talked about his high school literature club.  “People aren’t talking mom.”  So, he discussed the book with the teacher. 

It wasn’t Nick on the line, it was…

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Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

source: imdb.com

source: imdb.com

On the outskirts of New Orleans lies a narrow piece of land known as Isle de Jean Charles. It is slowly disappearing into the Terrebonne Bay. It lies just outside the levees that protect New Orleans. This is the inspiration of the fictional Bathtub in Benh Zeitlin’s film Beasts of the Southern Wild.

The Bathtub is a Louisiana wilderness of poverty. The community struggles to survive the incoming storms, and just survive period. The Bathtub looks and feels post-apoloypatic. At first, as the film begins, it is hard to tell when and where the film is. Eventually we know that we are outside of New Orleans, with drilling rigs and oil refineries in the background.

Despite its rough appearance, Hushpuppy, the six-year-old heroine of the film, thinks the Bathtub is the “prettiest place on Earth.” Hushpuppy has a connection to the natural world. She picks up every animal she can, lifts it up to her ear, and listens to it. This is just one of the glimpses into Hushpuppy’s soul. A tender soul that is connected to more than just the natural, but to the spiritual as well.  Hushpuppy has been described as a mystic, a person who seeks unity with the Holy. Hushpuppy does this through her connection through the natural world around her.

The Bathtub is her sanctuary.

Quvenzhané Wallis is the first-time actress who plays Hushpuppy and is beyond incredible. She was five when she was cast for the movie, and seven when filming was completed. So much of her is in the character of Hushpuppy to the point that Hushpuppy would not be Hushpuppy without Wallis. It is hard to believe this is her first time acting.

An unwanted storm is on the way to the Bathtub. Which is hard to believe, as it appears that the residents of the Bathtub already live in a post-storm world. Hushpuppy narrates much of the film with her six-year-old philosophy about the world. It is just one of the ways in which we get a glimpse at the world through the wide eyes of Hushpuppy. She knows just how big and powerful she is in this world, which is evident when she comes face-to-face with the mythical, giant, wild boars who escape from the melting glaciers. The boars, of course, are not real. They are a part of Hushpuppy’s imagination based on the climate change theory of her teacher’s: “Any day now, the fabric of the universe is coming unraveled . . . Y’all better learn to survive.”

source: imdb.com

source: imdb.com

When the hurricane force winds and rain arrive, Hushpuppy and her father, Wink (Dwight Henry, another first-time actor who is a baker in the Third Ward of New Orleans), do not leave the Bathtub despite the mandatory evacuation. (“Daddy says brave men don’t run from their place.”) Rescue workers come in and take them, and the other storm survivors, to a shelter on the other side of the levees. The levees become a symbol of the barrier between these two worlds.

While at the shelter, doctors discover that Wink has a terminal illness and is dying. It is another way in which Hushpuppy’s world is coming unraveled. The father-daughter relationship here is unique to their situation and environment. At times, they are more like partners, codependent upon one another. At other times, Wink is the disciplinarian, smacking Hushpuppy on the head when she does wrong. Most of the time Wink calls her, “Man,” suggesting an equality between them.

Despite all that Hushpuppy goes through – surviving a house fire, living without her mother, leading a group of orphaned children, and seeing her father ill – Hushpuppy takes up the challenge to repair the world.

Hushpuppy: I see that I’m a little piece of a big universe, and that makes things right.

Hushpuppy comes to understand that she is one part of the larger puzzle of what repairs the world. It doesn’t take much to convince us that the world is unraveling around us. We each are a part of the universe, and we each play a roll in making things right. This is what is means to be a part of the Body of Christ.

Just as Hushpuppy is a mystic, living in the mysteries of the Holy doing her part to make things right, the film carries the viewer into the mysteries of an unfolding world. One where suffering is a reality and answers to life’s problems are not as black and white as we would like them to be. One where, as Hushpuppy says, “depends on everything fitting together just right.”

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