Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Preachng Materials for July 6th, 2008

R U M O R S # 508
Ralph Milton’s E-zine for people of faith with a sense of humor
2008-06-29

June 29, 2008

GOD IS WRITING THE SCRIPT
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Motto:
"A merry heart doeth good, like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones." (Proverbs 17:22 KJV)
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Please put this “blog” address on your “favorites” list. http://ralphmiltonsrumors.blogspot.com/
I post each issue of Rumors on that blog so that you can access it any time. And if an issue of Rumors goes missing, you can go and find it there.
Thanks.

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The Story Lectionary – our common ancestor
Revised Common Lectionary – fundamental courage
Rumors – marrying Rebekahs
Soft Edges – private property
Good Stuff – the master and the novice
Bloopers – a fire in the what?
We Get Letters – plumbing on the inside
Mirabile Dictu! – drive sideways
Bottom of the Barrel – the island of Trid
Stuff – (read this only if you would like to subscribe, unsubscribe or are wondering about permissions. That sort of boring stuff.)

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Rib Tickler – This from John Cameron
There was a child who was asked why he called his crossed-eyed teddy "Gladly". “It’s from a song we sing in church,” he said. “Gladly, the cross-eyed bear.”
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Next Week’s Readings – These are the readings you may hear in church this coming Sunday, July 6th, which is the 8th Sunday after Pentecost.

Story Lectionary
Genesis 16:1-16, 21:1-21
This is a time when we absolutely must look at the story of Hagar. The story is longer than the conventional reading. You can check out the Reader’s Theatre version we have on the Story Lectionary website:
http://www.story-lectionary.com
Bruce Feiler, who is Jewish, wrote an excellent book called “Abraham.” In it, he proposes (as others have done) that it is around Abraham that we can bring together the faith traditions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. To do that, we need to reacquaint ourselves with how the legend connects us with Islam through the story of Hagar and her son Ishmael.
Hagar wasn’t on our radar until a few years ago. When I wrote the first edition of “The Family Story Bible,” it didn’t occur to me to include her story until a reviewer pointed out the gap in my presentation. Hagar wasn’t in the lectionary until the Revised Common Lectionary came out. Most people know the name only as a character in a comic strip.
There’s a tendency to paint Sarah as the villain in the piece and Abraham as her wimpy accomplice. It’s important to remember that the legend is told from the Hebrew point of view, and that Sarah is the hero who made it possible for God’s promise to be fulfilled. And slavery was simply an accepted thing in those days, and Sarah had the right of life or death over Hagar. In the sensibility of biblical times, Sarah did the right thing.
But it is God who is writing the script in this legend, and it is God who saves Hagar in the end, though it feels to me as if she winds up with the consolation prize. Because the story goes on to tell us the further adventures of Abe, Sarah and Isaac, we hear nothing more at all about Hagar and Ishmael.
A children’s version of the story of Hagar and her son is in the Lectionary Story Bible, Year A, page 139 and in the Family Story Bible, page 33.

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Revised Common Lectionary
Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67 – I’ve always warmed to the story of Rebecca. She lived a kind of fundamental courage that we seldom honor, but which to me is a far greater courage than that of the military hero.
Rebecca plays the hand she is dealt. In this episode, she does the expected courteous thing and volunteers to water the stranger’s camels. If you are wondering what that involves, check out the reading in the Story Lectionary:
http://www.story-lectionary.com/ralph/Ralph-2008-07-20.html
Rebecca had strong legs! She also had a strong heart because when she’s asked if she will go as a bride to someone she’s never heard of in a place she’s never seen, she simply says, “I will.” The truth of course, is that she had no choice.
Rebecca is a role model for all those courageous people who have walked through the night with a sick child, who have cared for elders in the darkness of dementia, who have stayed with work that was important rather than work that was lucrative. There are thousands of such stories and those stories live in the hearts of many people who will hear this story read from pulpits around the world.


Psalm 45:10-17 – paraphrased by Jim Taylor
(an alternate reading is Song of Solomon 2:8-13)
When I was younger, I moved on to new adventures, while my elders remained behind. Now I watch younger colleagues move on to their new worlds.
10 The world is waiting for you, my friend.
Do not let yourself be held back by past loyalties;
you have grown bigger than our local puddle.
11 Important people will want to consult you.
International institutions will seek your advice.
Corporate clients will reward you richly for your wisdom.
12 Beware of the things that will tempt you.
13 The camp followers will cling to you;
with perfect teeth and plastic virtue they will try to seduce you.
14 They will flit around you like fireflies;
they will massage your ego.
15 You will become a literary lion, a familiar figure in the broadcast studios;
studio staff will know you on a first-name basis.
16 Your followers will be an influential school;
17 You will be famous.
But. Do not forget who you are.
From: Everyday Psalms
Wood Lake Books.
For details, go to www.woodlakebooks.com

Romans 7:15-25a – In a former incarnation – well, actually after I wrote the book “Man to Man,” I trotted around the countryside doing men’s events. The guys who gathered came for a variety of reasons – mostly struggling toward some sort of masculine integrity in the light of the feminist movement.
On several occasions I encountered men who had physically abused their wives and/or children. Some of them wailed, “I can’t help it. When I get mad, I just loose it. I can’t stop myself.”
“Have you ever been mad at your wife when you were in the mall?”
“Well, yeah!”
“And did you hit her then?”
“Ah, no.”
“If you could stop yourself at the mall, how come you couldn’t stop yourself at home?”
If Paul had been with those men’s groups, his argument would have been shot down in flames. He complains he can’t control his “member.” He’s helpless. He’s a slave. Only an external force can free him.
Paul lived in a society where slavery was the norm. A slave could do nothing to earn or gain or achieve freedom. Only the master could grant freedom. In that society his argument made sense.
In ours it doesn’t.

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 – And very nicely, the response to Paul’s complaint comes out of the mists of time from Rebecca, and from Matthews gospel.
Says Rebecca, “Look Paul. If you have to do it, you can do it. Have you ever watered ten camels? Have you any idea what it was like to be married to wazzoo like Isaac? Give me a break!”
Jesus is more gentle. “Take my yoke, my spirit, into your soul. You will find the strength you need to conquer your demons. If you accept the tenderness of my love, you will discover the spiritual strength that is part of your very being. It’s a strength and courage you have always had. If you accept my love, you’ll discover that your yoke is easy and your burden is light.”
OK, so I am taking huge liberties with Matthew’s gospel and the “quote” reflects my feelings, not Jesus. But I think I’m somewhere in the ball park.

For children see “The Lectionary Story Bible, Year A,” page 147 where you will find the story of Rebekah and Isaac, and page 150 where you will find a story based on the Matthew reading.
Click the main Wood Lake Publications website at www.woodlakebooks.com, or click on the following address which takes you directly to the “Lectionary Story Bible.”
http://tinyurl.com/2lonod

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Rumors – Many of my male friends married Rebekahs. I certainly did.
For me, this was 50 years ago this August. My friends and I discovered that somehow during the course of the marriage, the Rebekahs found their power. Their strength. Their own sense that they had intelligence and power and perception that was equal to, sometimes greater than, the men they had married.
And like Rebekah of four thousand years ago, these modern day Rebekahs began to take a hand in their own destiny – began to assert themselves. And that made for conflict that strained the marriage.
Whenever we have a hierarchy of power, where one person has power over another, there’s the possibility of conflict. When the Hebrew slaves of Egypt – when the African slaves in the US – didn’t want to be slaves anymore, there was conflict. When women don’t want to be treated like a piece of male property anymore, there is conflict.
On one occasion, when a group of our friends were enjoying an evening together, we realized that all five couples were still married to their original partners. We talked about the conflict we’d gone through and how we had to work through the conflict to find a new and much better marriage.
And we recognized with sadness how many of our friends had lost their marriages trying to do exactly that.
Jesus showed us very clearly what to do with conflict. Jesus walked into Jerusalem, right into the conflict, faced it, embraced it, gave his life into it, and on the other side, found resurrection.

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Soft Edges – by Jim Taylor
Private Property
One summer, while I was at university, I worked on a bush crew. Before we headed out into the northern forests, our employer issued equipment to each of us: a backpack, a sleeping bag, some instruments, an axe... and a file to keep the axe sharp.
Having had some previous experience with axes, I knew that the only safe axe is a sharp axe. I carefully wrapped my file in waterproof plastic film and tucked it away in my pack.
Others were not as careful. Within weeks, most of the files had been left out in the rain. They were rusty, dulled, useless.
Halfway through the summer, I sat in a remote camp one evening, touching up the edge on my axe. When I finished, another crew member grabbed for my file.
“No!” I said. “You won’t take care of it.”
“It’s not your file,” he retorted. “The company handed them out to all of us!”
I lied. “It is so my file,” I blurted.
“You brought it from Vancouver with you?”
“Yes,” I lied again.
But my answer satisfied him. He left my file alone.
Clearly, he felt he had a right to take, and use, anything that was common property. But private property, personal property, was sacrosanct, untouchable.
It was the first time I became conscious of how private ownership can become something akin to divine right. Since childhood, I had owned a bicycle, some clothing, some sports equipment... But no one had ever challenged that ownership. So the issue never came up.
Since then I’ve realized that in our society private property has become an article of faith – unquestionable, unchallengeable.
A man buys an acreage. It carries a covenant that the land will be preserved as wilderness. Technically, he obeys. He doesn’t sub-divide for housing. But he logs it for firewood; he bulldozes access roads; he stores construction equipment on it. “It’s my land,” he says.
Legally, the beach is public. A couple who own a waterfront lot put up fences to limit access to the beach. “We bought the lot,” they say. “We have rights too.”
A social worker calls on a dysfunctional family. The mother protests, “They’re my kids. No one’s going to tell me how to raise my kids.”
From Moses’ time on, private ownership has been assumed to have benefits. But it also had responsibilities. Ownership was like a lease from God. Eventually, the owner was expected to return it to God, in better condition.
Ownership was never carte blanche, to do what you want with.
In our thinking, private ownership has become so entrenched that most people cannot imagine any alternative. The notion that a river, a valley, an ocean, can belong to everyone offends them. It simply invites someone else to exploit that resource.
Or else it raises fears of socialism, communism, and Big Brother rampant.
But the real alternative to private ownership is neither government control nor anarchy. It is responsibility – even for that which you do not own.

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Good Stuff – This from Don Sandin. It’s an old story that’s been around in various versions and may well be apocryphal. In one version, it was a young girl and a tired mother on welfare. It certainly could have happened. And if it didn’t, it should have.
The story rings some bells inside me, because I remember the delight when I played chopsticks on the piano, and a family friend sat down and played with me. I don’t remember what she played, but it was wonderful.

Wishing to encourage her young son's progress on the piano, a mother took her boy to a Paderewski concert. After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her.
Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy rose and eventually explored his way through a door marked "No Admittance.” When the house lights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing.
Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage. In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."
At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy's ear, "Don't quit. Keep playing."
Then leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child and he added a running obbligato. Together, the old master and the young novice offered music that had a beauty far beyond the notes that were heard.

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Bloopers, Boggles, Typos and Stuff – Pat Bonell of Ottawa says that at last Evensong, the reader read "the fire in the brazier" as "the fire in the brassiere".

Eric Lynk says this is the anthem promised in the bulletin: “Sins are Lifted at Calgary."

Forgive us Father, for we have Synod!”
a prayer at a church gathering, via April Dailey

Sign in the church baby nursery: “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51)
via Evelyn McLachlan

You nonconformists are all alike.
from a bumper sticker, via John Ellis

If you’ve spotted any good bloopers in your church bulletin or newsletter, or anywhere else for that matter, please send them to me. ralphmilton@woodlake.com

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Wish I’d Said That! – When we cease to wonder, we cease to worship.
source unknown via Evelyn McLachlan

After crosses and losses, we grow humbler and wiser.
Benjamin Franklin

These are the days when Christians are expected to praise every creed except their own.
source unknown

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We Get Letters –Wayne Seybert of Longmont, Colorado saw a sign once that said, "Eat right, live right, die anyway." His response:
“I am living wrong, eating wrong, playing wrong, drinking wrong. But I am laughing everyday so I can attend the funerals of the people who live right, eat right, play right and exercise right.”

Carl Chamberlain of Lockport, New York writes: “The comment about the civil engineer putting a waste disposal line thorough the recreational area reminded me of this story.” The couple were with child and patiently waiting. The due date came and went. Eventually a new daughter arrived. The mother was not surprised. “I’m a contractor,” she said. “I build houses. It always takes longer to put the plumbing on the inside.”

Laura Baum of New Mexico says this story is “alleged to be true, but who knows? Who cares?”
Little Kellie, went with a neighbor girl to church for First Communion practice. The pastor had the children cup their hands, and when he gave them the "Host," in this case, a piece of bread, he said, "God be with you." Apparently this made quite an impression on Kellie. She came home and told her mother to cup her hands and bend down. Kellie took a piece of bread from her sandwich, placed it in her mother's hands, and whispered, in her most angelic voice, "God will get you."

Eric Lynk of Winsloe, Prince Edward Island, writes: “When I ministered in northern Alberta in the early '80s I had a house church in the community of Valhalla, north of Grande Prairie. Children were included in every aspect of worship. This was especially important for Cara, a rather spirited and very curious little girl of four years who insisted on addressing me as "Minster". We ended the service with the Lord's Prayer.
“The next week, as I arrived at yet another home for services, Cara ran to greet me and excitedly asked, ‘Minster, are you giving us our daily bread and our trespasses again tonight?’"

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Mirabile Dictu! – (Latin for “drive sideways!”)
Velia Watts of Edmonton, Alberta has a collection of wacky warning labels.
* Warning: avoid dropping air conditioner out of window!
* Warning on a blow dryer: do not use while sleeping!
* Warning on a vacuum cleaner: do not use to pick up gasoline or flammable liquids!
* Warning on a wheelbarrow: Do not use when temperature exceeds 140 degrees!
* Callahan tunnel: no end
* Caution: water on road during rain
* Entrance only – do not enter!
* Stop: drive sideways!

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Bottom of the Barrel – This is from Evelyn McLachlan who shall surely do several hundred millennia in purgatory for sending this. It’s so bad, I didn’t even read it before I held my nose and plunked it in here.
I would strongly recommend that you do not read this either.

The Island of Trid
Once upon a time, in the middle of the ocean, there was the Island of Trid.
Most of the Island of Trid was covered by a large mountain. On this mountain lived a Giant. The Giant did not allow Trids on his mountain. If a Trid dared to climb onto the mountain, the Giant would kick him into the ocean. Trids are notoriously bad swimmers, and frequently drowned when kicked into the ocean.
The Trids were a very passionate race, and the population had grown quite large. Every square inch of the island, except the mountain, was crowded with Trids.
The Trids spent their days crowded together, dreaming of the open space available on the ever visible mountain. Every few days, a Trid would decide he couldn't stand the crowds any more. He would start to climb the mountain, and the Giant would kick the Trid into the ocean. The Trids were a very depressed people.
One day a traveling Rabbi visited the Island of Trid. Despite their overcrowded conditions, the Trids were extremely generous to this man of God.
The Rabbi decided to return the favor, and to go plead the Trid's case to the Giant. "Surely the Giant can be convinced to share some of the mountain with you," the Rabbi explained.
The Trids were horrified. "Please don't go, Rabbi", the Trids implored. "The Giant will kick you into the ocean, and you will surely drown."
The Rabbi was stubborn, and insisted that he talk to the Giant. The Trids sent out every boat they had. They formed a ring around the island, so that they would be able to rescue the Rabbi.
The Rabbi started walking towards the mountain. No sign of the Giant.
He walked through the foothills, and there was no sign of the Giant.
He started up the slopes of the mountain, further than any Trid had ever been. Still no sign of the Giant.
Finally he reached the summit of the mountain. There the Giant was waiting for him. The Rabbi asked "Tell me Giant, why have you allowed me to climb to the top of the mountain, without kicking me off the moment I started climbing?"
"Silly Rabbi,” said the Giant. “Kicks are for Trids!"

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Information and Stuff – (Read this section only if you want to know about subscribing, unsubscribing or quoting stuff from Rumors.) It would be nice if you could give Rumors a plug in your bulletin or newsletter. Please invite your friends (and even your enemies) to subscribe. There's no charge: RUMORS is free and it comes to your e-mail box every Sunday morning. Just send your friends the instructions to subscribe [below], and include an invitation to join the list ... perhaps something like this: “There’s a lively and fun newsletter called RUMORS which is available at no cost on the net. It’s for ‘Christians with a sense of humor’.” Please add the instructions to subscribe [below]. If you have a friend you think would enjoy Rumors, and you’d rather not give them the subscribing instructions below, send me an e-mail at ralphmilton@woodlake.com and give me the e-mail address of your friend. If you are using something from Rumors in your sermon, give credit only as appropriate, without stopping the sermon dead in its tracks. I am delighted when Rumors is useful in the life and work of the church. As long as it is within your congregation or parish, you don’t need permission. You are welcome to use the stuff in church bulletins or newsletters. Please say where it came from, and please invite people to subscribe to RUMORS. An appropriate credit line would be; “From Ralph Milton's RUMORS, a free Internet ‘e-zine’ for Christians with a sense of humor." ... and please be sure to include these instructions to subscribe to RUMORS: To Subscribe:* Send an e-mail to: rumors-subscribe@joinhands.com
* Don't put anything else in that e-mail
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* Don’t put anything else in that e-mail* If you are changing e-mail addresses, and your old address will no longer be in service, you do not need to unsubscribe. The sending computer will try a few times, and then give up..~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*Please Write – If you respond, react, think about, freak-out, or otherwise have things happen in your head as a result of reading the above, please send a note to: ralphmilton@woodlake.com
Who knows, I might quote you in a future issue of RUMORS.All material is copyright © Ralph Milton.~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Preaching Materials for June 29, 2008

R U M O R S # 507
Ralph Milton’s E-zine for people of faith with a sense of humor
2008-06-22

June 22, 2008

THE SERIOUS BUSINESS OF LAUGHTER
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Motto:
"A merry heart doeth good, like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones." (Proverbs 17:22 KJV)
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Please put this “blog” address on your “favorites” list. http://ralphmiltonsrumors.blogspot.com/
I post each issue of Rumors on that blog so that you can access it any time. And if an issue of Rumors goes missing, you can go and find it there.
Thanks.

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The Story Lectionary – holy improbability
Revised Common Lectionary – testing one, two, three
Rumors – a theology of laziness
Soft Edges – grace before meals
Bloopers – easier than drawing a pig
Mirabile Dictu! – nacho cheese
Bottom of the Barrel – God is a civil engineer
Stuff – (read this only if you would like to subscribe, unsubscribe or are wondering about permissions. That sort of boring stuff.)

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Rib Tickler – Winston Churchill was not noted for his piety, but he was noted for his wit.
One Sunday, he made a rare appearance at the parish church near his home at Chartwell. At the end of the service, the rector met Sir Winston at the door. “Well, Sir Winston. You are not quite a pillar of the church, are you?”
“No,” said Sir Winston. “I am a buttress. I support it from the outside.”

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Next Week’s Readings – These are the readings you may hear in church this coming Sunday, June 29th, which is the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost.

Story Lectionary – Genesis 17 & 18
The intention is not that you read all of these two chapters in church next Sunday. I’d suggest you go to:
http://www.story-lectionary.com/ralph/Ralph-2008-06-29.html
where you can see how we’ve done this in a Reader’s Theatre style.
I read a newspaper item not long ago about a Swedish woman (or maybe she was Danish) who had lived to the age of 115. She still had all her marbles, even at that age. When asked about the secret of her long life, she said, “Keep breathing.”
Which is good advice. There is a distressingly high mortality rate among people who stop breathing.
There’s also a distressingly high mortality rate among people who stop laughing. Being of the male gender, I have no personal experience of giving birth but I am told it can be very tough. Especially when you are almost as old as that woman in Sweden.
When geriatric Sarah heard that she was going to bear a child, she laughed. I wrote a poem about that, which you can find at:
http://www.story-lectionary.com/ralph/Ralph-2008-06-29-story.html
Laughter was the only appropriate response to the glorious, ludicrous, holy improbability of it all. And my imagination has God laughing along with Sarah.
Laughter is serious business. Which is a problem.
Everyone agrees that humor is one of God’s great gifts of grace, but very few people give it any serious thought so they can use it effectively. It’s a bit like story telling. Most preacher people agree that stories communicate most powerfully with the folks in the pews but they go right on with their propositional preaching.
I submit that if Sarah had been the steel-jawed, thin-lipped type, she would never have gotten pregnant in the first place, much less seen baby Isaac to term.
People with a lively sense of humor – people who delight in all the wild stuff life throws at you – such people are much more likely to survive the tough, up-hill climb that life so often turns out to be.
So Sarah is a role model for me. I’ll look to her spirit when life throws another jab at my solar plexus.
Don’t forget to look for the resources at the story lectionary site.
http://www.story-lectionary.com

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Revised Common Lectionary
Genesis 22:1-14 – We’re quite accustomed to seeing folks check the microphones before an event of some sort. “Testing, one, two, three.” Before the content of the event begins, we test the system to make sure the sound is getting through.
The first verse of this passage tells us this is a test. Let’s see if the systems are working. If they are, then the message can get through. God tests Abraham to see if his faith is strong enough to bear the message, “I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven.”
I have often wondered if having children is a basic human right, or is it a privilege. I had to take a driver’s test before I was allowed to drive a car. But being parent to a child is far, far more difficult and dangerous than driving a car. So is Grandparenting.
Should parenting require medical, psychological and spiritual testing? I know. That’s not politically possible and probably not ethically defensible either. But I had a conversation a few years ago with a pediatrician who worked in one of the inner city hospitals in New York. Most of the mothers had substance abuse issues. She talked about the agony of delivering a baby and putting it in the arms of the mother, knowing that the child had an almost zero chance of growing up without huge social and emotional problems.

Psalm 13 – paraphrased by Jim Taylor
A friend with cystic fibrosis had a double lung transplant. For six months, his body tried to reject the lungs that offered him new life.
How long, O Lord, must I lie here?
Will you ignore me forever?
How long must I struggle along on my own?
My body aches all over;
My own organs war against me.
Will you let them win?
How long can I keep up this battle?
How long can I keep on fighting?
Listen to me, God!
In the dead of night, answer me!
Or let me die.
Then my illness can rejoice,
for it has triumphed over me;
It has killed both of us.
Ah, but I trust you, Lord.
Whatever happens, I know
that I am safe in your love.
There is nothing more I could ask, living or dead.
So I will praise you, whatever happens.
From: Everyday Psalms
Wood Lake Books.
For details, go to www.woodlakebooks.com

Romans 6:12-23 – Paul, I think, has been stung by criticism that his justification by faith opens the door to sinful living. So he asks the rhetorical question: If we live by grace, can we then sin with impunity? “By no means.”
Having felt God’s love flood our souls, we will do our level best to live in a way that offers growth and health to those around us, and to avoid sin that is inevitably hurtful to others and ourselves.
My concern is that Paul defines “sin” much too narrowly – mostly in sexual terms. “Member” is his euphemism for the phallus. Certainly we can be abusive to others and destructive to ourselves in our sexuality, but there lots of other sins that are every bit as destructive. Perhaps much more so.

Matthew 10:40-42 – This is a kind of wrap-up summary of the teachings in the previous chapters. The language is a bit confusing, so it’s good to take your time reading through it.
Jesus’ grounding in the Hebrew tradition shows through. His hearers would have understood exactly what he meant by a “prophet’s reward,” or the “reward of the righteous.” Not being steeped in the Jewish tradition, this can be a bit of a puzzler. But we have no trouble understanding what he means about giving “a cup of cold water to one of these little ones.”

For children see “The Lectionary Story Bible, Year A,” page 142 for a story based on Genesis 22, and a story based on the Matthew passage on page 145. A children’s story based on the Genesis 17 passage may be found on page 133.
Good news! Year B is ready! I have held a copy in my trembling little hand.
Click the main Wood Lake Publications website at www.woodlakebooks.com, or click on the following address which takes you directly to the “Lectionary Story Bible.”
http://tinyurl.com/2lonod

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Rumors – We’ve had a very cool spring in this neck of the woods. The crops are 10 days to two weeks behind. Last Monday was the first day that began to feel a little bit like summer. Not hot, but sun all day long and we ate lunch on the back porch.
Most of the people who subscribe to Rumors are worker bees who tend to do 70 hours weeks and find it had to take a rest. So this time of year I usually do my little sermon on creative laziness.
In an on-line discussion group some years back I was trying to generate some action. Most of the people in that group were clergy. “It’s summertime,” I said to the folks, “an’ the living is easy. Fish a jumpin’ and the cotton is high.” (I tried to claim that as original poetry, but they wouldn’t let me.) “What about a theology of laziness so we can use it to get all those workaholic clergy to take decent a summer vacation?
One of those clergy, Deborah Laing (at that time from Rock Island, Quebec) did some "biblical research." This is what she sent me.
· Luke 12:24 “Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin...”
· Job 2:11-13 “Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place . . . And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him . . .”
· Isaiah 40:30-31 “Even youths shall faint, and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength . . .”
· Lamentation 3:25-26 “The Lord is good to those who wait . . . to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
· Deuteronomy 5:14 “The seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, or your manservant, or your maidservant, or your ox, or your ass, or any of your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you.”
· 1 Samuel 19:24 “And he too stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel, and lay naked all that day and all that night.”
"I could go on," Deborah wrote, "but it seems rather self-defeating to put a lot of work into a treatise on laziness."
Well no. Kids, I think, can teach us a whole lot about creative laziness.
Some friends of ours own a hot tub. At the end of the day, the whole family spends 15 minutes together soaking. The kids simply enjoy it. The adults feel guilty because, well, “most people don't own hot-tubs and isn’t this a bit of a self-indulgent luxury? Besides, there are so many important things we should be doing.”
I think that's where the theology of laziness comes in. Kids understand it’s important to know how to be lazy. There are times to just lie on your back in the sunshine and soak up God's warmth. There are times to simply luxuriate in the long and loving hug of a good friend. The old preacher in Ecclesiastes was right. There is a "time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance."
There’s also a time to goof off.
There are two kinds of insufferable people in the world – those who can’t see the pain of the world and refuse to do anything about it, and those who can see nothing else. Balance is the key. There’s a time to work your ever-lovin’ butt off and a time to play dead. If you don’t get the two in the right proportions, you will end up either a burned-out workaholic or a socially irresponsible slob.
When I see a rose, it is my job – no, my holy calling – to stop and enjoy its beauty and to smell its fragrance. Nothing else. For the few seconds when I am smelling the rose I must be totally absorbed in it. But if all I do is smell roses, I would be a very sick social parasite.
In a couple of weeks the summer months – July and August in Canada – will be here. I am going to spend quality time on my back porch watching the birds and the bugs and the flowers and the leaves.
I hope the rest of you, if you live north of the equator, will have the self discipline to take significant time to refresh and renew. It’s not a right or a privilege. It is a responsibility.
And if this little diatribe sounds a bit repetitive, it’s because I lifted most of it out of “Angels in Red Suspenders.” I don’t need permission to steal my own stuff, especially in summer, and in that spirit you may find yourself reading a few Rumors re-runs as well.
Summer blessings all!

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Soft Edges – by Jim Taylor
Grace Before Meals
Last month, my wife Joan was asked to say grace at a banquet. She knew that most of the 200 or so women attending this event would be Christian, but she suspected that a few might be Buddhist, Hindu, Parsi, Baha’i...
In today’s pluralistic world, you can no longer guess someone’s faith tradition purely by skin color or facial shape.
So Joan decided that the grace should be non-denominational, and not even specifically Christian.
There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of table graces floating around. In books. In magazines. Joan and I chased through several dozen Internet collections.
But most of these graces are very specifically Christian. Which is fine, if you happen to be a Christian already.
Some terms that slip so flowingly off Christian tongues – Saviour, Father, Lord, Jesus – sound exclusive and even offensive to other ears.
Most of these graces also come out of an evangelical tradition which takes for granted that God is
(a) male, and
(b) has personally given His food to His people, whom He can count on to do His will in His world. (Capitalized pronouns are deliberate.)
We found very few graces that acknowledged what Alcoholics Anonymous calls “a higher power” without giving that “higher power” a particular name. And even fewer that expressed gratitude without presuming a supernatural being who meddles in worldly matters.
To put this bluntly, many graces sounded as if God belonged to us, rather than the other way around.
There were also lots of “camp graces,” suitable to the informal context of a summer camp.
Good food, good meat,
Good God, let’s eat!
Or, even less reverently,
Rub a dub dub
Thanks for the grub,
Yeaaaaaaay, God!
There are exceptions, of course. Joan and I both liked the Jewish format, “Blessed art thou, Creator of the Universe, who bringest forth bread from the earth...”
But we were not sure that it was right to borrow another religion’s wording, any more than we should attempt a native sweetgrass ceremony without belonging to that tradition.
Eventually, we came up with a compromise, a blending of themes from several sources:
Holy One, Universal Spirit, by whatever name we know you,
we thank you.
Bless to us this day our daily bread,
as we gather at this table, in the presence of our friends.
May the yeast of compassion,
of mutual understanding, of shared enthusiasm,
cause us too to rise like bread.
For some have food, and no friends.
And some have friends, and no food.
We thank you that on this night we have both. Amen.
My grandparents’ generation assumed that everyone belonged to our tradition. And if they didn’t, they should.
We can no longer make that assumption. A family dinner today could include Jews and Catholics, Muslims and Presbyterians, Mormons and Anglicans, or evangelicals and agnostics.
One alternative is not to say grace at all. I prefer, if possible, to find words that can respect the breadth, and wealth, of our various traditions, without forcing one tradition down another’s throat.

I’m sure there are other graces out there that fit Joan’s criteria. Some will come from more inclusive threads within Christianity. Some may come from other faiths, other ethnic traditions, other cultural expressions, even from supposedly non-religious sources.
If you know some of these, I’d appreciate receiving them. If enough come in, I promise to compile them and make the collection available on-line.
Send them to me at:
jimt@quixotic.ca.

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Bloopers, Boggles, Typos and Stuff – John Shaffer writes: “The hymn after the sermon today was supposed to be ‘Where Charity and Love Prevail.’ What we got was ‘Where Chastity and Love Prevail.’ Works for me.”
John, the deep, snarling cynic in me wants to say that these days both charity and chastity are in rather short supply.

Mary in Oman sent this along as a serious quotation from Joye Kanelakos. Or was the blooper in the original?
“Look into the depths of another’s soul and listen, not only with our ears, but with our heats, and imagination, and our silent love.”
Mary, I’m not exactly sure what “heats” would mean in this context, but if it means the places in our psyche where we get flaming mad – well that’s not a bad thing either.

Paul Woodhart asked a group of young teens who come from the 'huntin’ and shootin’ country in western New South Wales, “Why did the early Christians use a fish sign to identify themselves?”
The reply from a country boy: “Well, it is easier than drawing a pig.”

Vern Ratzlaff tells of the day “our pastor announced that the church would be going on its annual picnic to the Peace Arch Park. Only he announced that we would be going to the ‘Peach Arss Park.’”

If you’ve spotted any good bloopers in your church bulletin or newsletter, or anywhere else for that matter, please send them to me. ralphmilton@woodlake.com

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Wish I’d Said That! – Oratory: the art of making deep noises from the chest that sound like important messages from the brain.
H. I. Phillips via Evelyn McLachlan

The only way you can get more out of life for yourself is to give part of yourself away.
Jim Stovall via Mary in Oman

One of the deepest and strangest of all human moods is the mood which will suddenly strike us perhaps in a garden at night, or deep in sloping meadows – the feeling that every flower and leaf has just uttered something stupendously direct and important, G.K. Chesterton via Jim Taylor

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Mirabile Dictu! – (Latin for “Nacho cheese!”)
This from Don Propeck. I have no idea why most of the words are capitalized, but it was way too much work to change them all.
* How Do You Get Holy Water?
You Boil The Hell Out Of It
* What Do Fish Say When They Hit a Concrete Wall?
Dam!
* What Do people up north Get From Sitting On The Ice Too Long?
Polaroids
* What Do You Call a Boomerang That Doesn't Work?
A Stick
* What Do You Call Cheese That Isn't Yours?
Nacho Cheese.
* What Do You Get When You Cross a Snowman With a Vampire?
Frostbite.
* What Lies At The Bottom Of The Ocean And Twitches?
A Nervous Wreck.
* What's The Difference Between Roast Beef And Pea Soup?
Anyone Can Roast Beef.
* Why Did Pilgrims' Pants Always Fall Down?
Because They Wore Their Belt Buckle On Their Hat.
* What's the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut?
About 2 weeks

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Bottom of the Barrel – This struck me as particularly funny because tomorrow I go see my MD for my annual physical, a highlight of which is when he takes the most indirect route possible to check my tonsils.
Three engineers, all male, were talking about God.
One was a mechanical engineer who claimed that God must be of his profession because, well, just look at the mechanical genius in the design of the body – all those joints and muscles moving in harmony.
“No, you’re wrong,” claimed the second who was an electrical engineer. “With the intricate nervous system of the body, God must have been an electrical engineer.”
“You’re both wrong,” said the third man. “God is a civil engineer. Who else would put a waste disposal line right through a great recreational area?”

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Information and Stuff – (Read this section only if you want to know about subscribing, unsubscribing or quoting stuff from Rumors.) It would be nice if you could give Rumors a plug in your bulletin or newsletter. Please invite your friends (and even your enemies) to subscribe. There's no charge: RUMORS is free and it comes to your e-mail box every Sunday morning. Just send your friends the instructions to subscribe [below], and include an invitation to join the list . . . perhaps something like this: “There’s a lively and fun newsletter called RUMORS which is available at no cost on the net. It’s for ‘Christians with a sense of humor’.” Please add the instructions to subscribe [below]. If you have a friend you think would enjoy Rumors, and you’d rather not give them the subscribing instructions below, send me an e-mail at ralphmilton@woodlake.com and give me the e-mail address of your friend. If you are using something from Rumors in your sermon, give credit only as appropriate, without stopping the sermon dead in its tracks. I am delighted when Rumors is useful in the life and work of the church. As long as it is within your congregation or parish, you don’t need permission. You are welcome to use the stuff in church bulletins or newsletters. Please say where it came from, and please invite people to subscribe to RUMORS. An appropriate credit line would be; “From Ralph Milton's RUMORS, a free Internet ‘e-zine’ for Christians with a sense of humor." . . . and please be sure to include these instructions to subscribe to RUMORS: To Subscribe:* Send an e-mail to: rumors-subscribe@joinhands.com
* Don't put anything else in that e-mail
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* Don’t put anything else in that e-mail* If you are changing e-mail addresses, and your old address will no longer be in service, you do not need to unsubscribe. The sending computer will try a few times, and then give up..~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*Please Write – If you respond, react, think about, freak-out, or otherwise have things happen in your head as a result of reading the above, please send a note to: ralphmilton@woodlake.com
Who knows, I might quote you in a future issue of RUMORS.All material is copyright © Ralph Milton.~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Friday, June 13, 2008

Preaching Materials for June 22nd, 2008

R U M O R S # 506
Ralph Milton’s E-zine for people of faith with a sense of humor
2008-06-15

June 15, 2008

IS THIS YOUR IDEA OF A GOOD TIME, GOD?
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Motto:
"A merry heart doeth good, like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones." (Proverbs 17:22 KJV)
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The Story Lectionary – tea with Osama
Revised Common Lectionary – the painful, urgent story about Hagar
Rumors – Hagar’s story
Soft Edges – the dislocated life
Bloopers – a good laugh is a holy moment
We Get Letters – hold my coffee
Mirabile Dictu! – Zen sarcasm
Bottom of the Barrel – just like a woman
Stuff – (read this only if you would like to subscribe, unsubscribe or are wondering about permissions. That sort of boring stuff.)

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Rib Tickler – The whole diocese was in an uproar. It was a layperson who saw him first, then a priest, and then the bishop. The bishop decided he simply had to phone the Archbishop of Canterbury.
“We’ve seen Jesus,” he stammered. “He’s sitting in one of the pews of the cathedral right this very minute. What should we do?”
There was a pause, and then the answer. “Look busy.”
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Next Week’s Readings – These are the readings you may hear in church this coming Sunday, June 22nd, which is the 6th Sunday after Pentecost.

Story Lectionary – Acts 10:1-48 is the selected reading. It’s longer than what we normally have in the church. But the intention is that it would be the only reading, and that it would done as Reader’s Theatre (which you’ll find on the website) to make the story more interesting and relevant.
It’s a story about how Christianity moved from being a sect of Judaism to a religion of the Gentiles. We don’t know much at all about the early Christian church between the first Easter and the evangelizing work of Paul. If you have the stomach for it, John Dominic Crossan has written the definitive tome on the subject – “The Birth of Christianity.”
Crossan tells us more than most of us want to know about Jewish Christianity – which did not separate soul from body – and how it got to be based on the Platonic dualism of body (bad) and spirit (good).
In our era, when people tend to hang fairly loose with their religion, we need to use our imagination to understand just how important Peter’s ritual cleanliness was to him. I’ve been scratching my head to come up with a contemporary example, and the best I can think of is Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. (Obama’s former pastor) going to visit the Grand Whatever of the Ku Klux Klan. Which is not really a good parallel at all, but maybe it will stimulate you to think of something better.
Or maybe Peter’s visit to the Centurion’s house might be a bit like George Bush going to a mosque for tea with Osama bin Laden. Or the other way around.
Please check out the Story Lectionary web site. There’s some good stuff there.
http://www.story-lectionary.com

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Revised Common Lectionary
Genesis 21:8-21 – This story has particular importance in a world where we seem to be doing a re-play of the medieval struggle between Islam and Christianity. Again the world seems to be dividing itself into armed camps, which are really political but they are divided along religious lines. The most recent worry is the dangerous saber-rattling going on between Iran and Israel.
Hagar is kicked out into the wilderness with a bit of water and bread. Like any mother, she cannot bear to watch her son die. According to the Genesis chronicler, God responds to the cries of the boy, not Hagar’s wailing. Which is a bit hard to swallow.
What Hagar and Ishmael receive from God is definitely a consolation prize, while Sarah and Isaac win the jackpot – immortality through God’s chosen people – their offspring.
This is legend, of course, but it’s a legend on which most of us were raised. It is a founding legend that reflects the assumption of superiority on the part of the Judeo/Christian west.

Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17 – paraphrased by Jim Taylor
God provides
1 Please, God, listen to me.
I am a single mother on welfare.
I am a native boy on the reserve.
I am a refugee.
2 I have tried to follow your ways, God.
I have attempted to hear your will.
So save me.
3 You are my last hope.
4 I offer you myself.
5 You are forgiving, you are gracious,
you pour out love for everyone who claims you as a friend.
6 I really need you, God.
7 I'm at my wit's end.
The doors keep closing on me;
Who else will hear me?
8 You can still rescue me.
You are God. You alone are God.
9 Eventually, all earthly powers must acknowledge you.
10 You are great.
16 So take pity on me.
I'm a child prostitute in the Philippines.
I'm a forgotten military mistress in Vietnam.
I'm a starving bag of bones in Somalia,
I'm a bloodied victim in Sarajevo.
17 Give me a sign.
Show me that you haven't forgotten me.
From: Everyday Psalms
Wood Lake Books.
For details, go to www.woodlakebooks.com

Romans 6:1b-11 – Here is Paul describing for us what happens in baptism. The immersion under water is a symbolic burying of the old self and then rising into a new life – Jesus’ death and resurrection re-enacted.
I like that symbolism. I’ve never been totally comfortable with infant baptism even though we had all of our four baptized as babies. And I’ve never really liked the sprinkling method, even though that’s how I was baptized. My Anabaptist roots, combined with my melodramatic inclinations want the whole immersion thing, preferably in a natural body of water.
People in the liberal main-line churches wear their faith commitments much too loosely. I’ve often wondered what it would be like if membership in the church involved significant study, commitment and a dramatic walk down to the riverside.

Matthew 10:24-38 – Each Sunday there is evidence in our congregation that some of us guys are doing our best to make God’s job a bit easier. There are fewer and fewer hairs to be numbered.
Seriously, this is heavy-duty stuff. I hadn’t checked out this passage when I wrote the above blurb on Romans, and it was almost as if I’d been told, “OK Ralph, you want serious Christian commitment, this is what it’s about.”
And if I am really honest, I’d have to turn and walk away like the rich young ruler, knowing that I can’t accept that commitment. Or maybe it really isn’t an either-or situation at all.
When I think of it, my fragile faith has been enriched and strengthened by my love for family. And my love for my family has enriched and strengthened my faith. And the cross that’s given me to bear is made possible by the love I receive from them.

A children’s version of the Hagar story in Genesis may be found in “The Lectionary Story Bible, Year A,” page 139, and a story based on the Matthew passage on page 141.
It was with considerable relief that earlier this week, I finished the first draft of Year C in this series. Year B has just arrived Wood Lake.
This has been the largest and most difficult writing project of my life. And I know Margaret Kyle would say something similar about the marvellous full-colour illustrations she has done.
Click the main Wood Lake Publications website at www.woodlakebooks.com, or click on the following address which takes you directly to the “Lectionary Story Bible.”
http://tinyurl.com/2lonod

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Rumors – I can’t do better by way of commentary than offering an Aggada I wrote about Hagar and Ishmael, based on Genesis 21:8-21. It is in the book “Is This Your Idea of a Good Time, God?” (Wood Lake Books, 1995) That somewhat awkward title was taken from this story.

Hagar sat on a small rock in the blazing sun, rocking back and forth, back and forth, clutching her arms about herself, trying not to hear the distant wail of her son, her dying son.
A body-wracking sob escaped, and then a cry, and then a scream of terror and anger directed at anything, everything, directed at God, though Hagar knew that God was nowhere near.
The wail of her child stopped. He would die soon, then she would die, and it would be all over. Then out from nowhere that she knew, from somewhere deep inside her, came another scream, a screech, a cry of anger, of defiance, perhaps hate. Hate at God? Why not? What had God done for her except lead her into hope, then throw her out into the unforgiving desert with her son to die.
They say your whole life plays before you, just before you die. You see it all in panorama, all the good and bad of it, all the hope and hate of it.
And Hagar saw the child she was, taken from a home she later learned was Egypt, sold as slave to Sarah on whom she waited hand and foot for years and years. Old Sarah. Barren Sarah. Sarah without child, who argued and cajoled at God to give her children.
Just fourteen years ago – it seemed like yesterday – Sarah grabbed her slave girls arm, pushed her roughly into her tent and said to husband Abraham. "Here. Take this slave girl. Make her pregnant. If I can't bear a child for you, she can. But it will be my child. Do you hear that, slave?" Hagar nodded. Hagar had no choice.
Hagar was a slave, and so she bore the child as she was told. She nursed the boy. She loved the boy. But Sarah made it clear. "That's not your child."
And Hagar should have known. Slaves don't taunt their owners. But her contempt of Sarah grew faster than the child within her belly. "You're right," she snarled at Sarah. "He's your child, O barren one."
And Sarah lashed right back in anger. Abused and battered, Hagar fled into the desert. It didn't seem as bad that time. Hagar felt the love of God inside her then, and when she prayed, she seemed to feel an answer. "Give Sarah a bit of time to cool down, and then go back," God said. "You will bear your child. Give him the name of Ishmael, which means, God hears. God will hear you, Hagar. Your child shall grow up strong, and you shall hold his children on your knee. You and Ishamel will be forebears of a kind and gentle people."
Hagar tried to stay as far away from Sarah as she could, tried not to show the young son Ishmael to the angry matriarch. And for awhile it worked.
Then one day the rumors flew around the tents of Abraham and Sarah's tribe – rumors of angels visiting – rumors of Sarah and of Abraham laughing loud and long at the ludicrous good news that Sarah would bear a son.
"Great news," thought Hagar. "Great news for everyone, but not for me and not for my son Ishmael," now grown into his early teens. While joy and promise sang from every tent as Sarah birthed a son named Isaac, a son named Laughter, Hagar did not laugh. A sense of deep foreboding filled her soul.
The toddler Isaac wandered happily from tent to tent, and Ishmael was a kind and gentle lad who saw the baby fall, and hurt his knee a little, and picked him up to comfort him. When Sarah walked around the tent, she saw Ishmael with her Isaac, and screamed and cried and once again told Hagar to "Get out! I don't want to ever set eyes on you again. Get out!"
"But Sarah," Abraham tried to say, "It was you who brought Hagar to me. It was you who said that we should have a child through her. And now you want to throw them out? It isn't right!"
"That bastard boy of yours is old enough to take your place, old man," Sarah hissed. "If you die, he could inherit everything, and your son Isaac, the child God sent to us, would be out on his ear. So get rid of her and the boy now. Right now."
Abraham talked to God. "If I send Hagar and Ishmael out into the desert they will die," he said. "What should I do?"
"Send them," God replied. "I'll work it out."
"Sure, God, you'll work it out!" Hagar screamed at the blazing, copper sky. "Can you see my son over there? He's quiet now. Maybe he's dead already. I put him over there by that bush because I couldn't bear to watch him die. The child I bore so Abraham could have a son. Abraham sent us out here, with one lousy skin of water. Hardly any food. Well, we always do as we're told God. You want us to come out here and die, we come out here and die. Is this your idea of a good time, God?"
"Go and hold the boy," a voice within her seemed to say. "Go and put your arms around the boy."
Hagar stumbled over rocks and thorns to take the long thin body of her son into her arms. She could not tell if Ishmael was still alive. She poured her mother love into the boy, and cried her tears, and through them saw not far from where she sat, a well.
Through the water of her tears she saw a well. Water.
She almost dropped the boy in her hurry to fill the skin with water, then to press it to the thin cracked lips of Ishmael, who at first responded not at all. But then there was some movement, and slowly bit by bit he drank, and Hagar's hopes renewed.
Hagar’s hopes renewed, then crashed once more as she remembered who she was, a slave, and where she was. Nowhere.
Again she cried, she looked toward the well, and from the deepest well within her soul she heard a voice. "From you and Ishmael shall come a people," said the voice of God within her. "You will survive. Your son will grow. And he will have a wife and you shall then be grandmother to a fine and gentle race of people; a race of people who will know the pain that you have known; a race of people who will stand weeping outside the tents of wealthy men."
"You shall live, my son," she whispered to the child she held so close to her. "You shall live, my Ishmael, and you shall grow, and you and I shall be the forebears of a fine and gentle race of people." And then she added in a firm and hopeful voice: "A race of people who will suffer and survive."
Then Hagar drank some water for herself. She drank it deep, and knew that even though it would not be through Abraham and Sarah and their race, Hagar and her son Ishmael were loved of God, and children of the promise.

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Soft Edges – by Jim Taylor
The Dislocated Life
I’m what’s known as a “Third Culture Kid,” a term devised by author David Pollock for children who spent their formative years overseas.
My parents were missionaries in India. Other parents worked for the British colonial services, or managed manufacturing plants, or had military careers.
Obviously, we didn’t belong to our parents’ culture back home, wherever that was. Likewise, we could never fully belong to the culture of India or Africa; if nothing else, skin color and standard of living marked us as outsiders.
Our common characteristic, in fact, is that we don’t feel that we belong anywhere.
Deirdre Straughan, a much younger schoolmate of mine, put it this way: “Like many third culture kids, I felt out of place (though not unhappy) in the exotic countries I'd lived in, where I was obviously foreign even after living there for years. I dreamed of returning to a country where I would feel wholly at ease and be accepted as a natural part of the scenery.”
But when she returned to America, she found herself just as much a foreigner. “I didn't realize at the time what was going on; I only knew that I found it easier to form friendships with non-Americans, or with Americans who had lived abroad as I had.”
After attending one of David Pollock’s workshops on Third Culture Kids, Deirdre wrote, “I learned that in fact I'm not quite American. Neither am I Thai, or Indian, or Bangladeshi, or Indonesian, though some aspects of those cultures (particularly Indian) inform my attitudes and behavior.”
Because of our early experiences, we Third Culture Kids tend to go through life seeking a place, a cause, an organization, to which we can belong unconditionally.
But paradoxically, our conditioning also means that even when we find such a group, or place, or organization, we don’t believe we can truly belong to it.
And so we bounce from yin to yang, from wanting to be included, to needing to maintain our separateness.
As I grow older, and become more aware of the world beyond myself, I realize that this description applies to more than just missionary children. Vast numbers of people have been dislocated from their home cultures – by economics, by natural disasters, and by unnatural disasters such as wars, civil wars, and genocide.
Time also plays a role.
When I talk with other adults about the desire to belong, coupled with the sense of not belonging, people nod agreement. Many people in their 60s and 70s feel quite out of joint. They don’t belong in a world of rock music, instant messaging, and throwaway products, a world where loyalty lasts only as long as an unpaid debt and tomorrow is already too late.
They can’t go back. And they’re too old to feel comfortable starting over in a new and unfamiliar world.
In an increasingly pluralistic world, maybe we Third Culture kids are just a step or two ahead of the rest of you.

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Bloopers, Boggles, Typos and Stuff – John Willems of Medicine Hat, Alberta says they were singing about the “throne of God,” but up on the screen came the words, “the thong of God.” Says John, “The image now in my mind, completely distracted me and the sanctity of the moment was lost.”
John, no, the sanctity wasn’t loss. A good laugh is a holy moment, and one we should enjoy, knowing that God is laughing with us.

* On a church bulletin during the minister's illness: "God is good. Dr. Hargreaves is better." * Next Friday we will be serving hot gods for lunch.* Prince of Peach Church...

If you’ve spotted any good bloopers in your church bulletin or newsletter, or anywhere else for that matter, please send them to me. ralphmilton@woodlake.com

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Wish I’d Said That! – A father’s chief role is to delight in his child.
Sam Keen

Father’s day is like mother’s day, except you don’t spend as much on the present.
an anonymous but perceptive child

I don’t want to live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever,'
Miss Alabama.1994 via Peggy Neufeldt.

To err is human. To blame it on someone else is politics.
Unknown, via Velia Watts
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Good Stuff – This morality tale from John Severson. John says, quite rightly, that it has appeared before but that was a long time ago. And it’s worth a re-run.
One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.
He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.
A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey would shake it off and take a step up.
As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up.
Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!
When life shovels dirt on your back, shake it off and step up.

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We Get Letters – Linda Holstine sends this remarkable statistic. 98% of North Americans scream before going into the ditch on an icy road. The other 2% are Canadians who say, “Hold my coffee and watch this.”

Not a letter but a delightful bit of wisdom from Doug Hodgkinson of Kelowna during a recent conversation. He was referring to a person who shall remain nameless. “Deep down, he’s really shallow,” said Doug. Which was exactly true.

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Mirabile Dictu! – (Latin for “sky diving is not for you!”) This from Patricia Magdamo, who got it from William Jarvis who got it from Craig Jarvis, who got it from . . .

Zen sarcasm
* Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me alone.
* The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and leaky tire.
* It's always darkest before dawn. So if you're going to steal your neighbors' newspaper, that's the time to do it.
* Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.
* Always remember that you're unique. Just like everyone else.
* Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
* If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.
* Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.
* If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.
* Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
* If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
* If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
* Some days you're the bug; some days you're the windshield.
* Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.
* A closed mouth gathers no foot.
* Duct tape is like 'The Force'. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.
* Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.
* Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
* Never miss a good chance to shut up.
* Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

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Bottom of the Barrel – Since we are now in the time of year when clergy and congregations begin to play musical pulpits, I thought this hoary old clunker might be useful.

The all-male pick-a-preacher committee had the job of deciding if the latest applicant had what it takes to be their minister. They didn’t quite know how to proceed, because this candidate was a woman.
“Let’s take her fishing,” suggested one of the committee members.
Out they went, early in the morning, the five men and the minister. Soon they were busy casting for trout, when the line of one of the men got snagged on a floating log. His tugging wouldn’t dislodge it.
So the lady minister stepped out of the boat, walked across the surface of the water, unhooked the snag, and walked back into the boat.
“Hmmmph” muttered one of the men. “Just like a woman. Can’t swim!”

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Information and Stuff – (Read this section only if you want to know about subscribing, unsubscribing or quoting stuff from Rumors.) It would be nice if you could give Rumors a plug in your bulletin or newsletter. Please invite your friends (and even your enemies) to subscribe. There's no charge: RUMORS is free and it comes to your e-mail box every Sunday morning. Just send your friends the instructions to subscribe [below], and include an invitation to join the list ... perhaps something like this: “There’s a lively and fun newsletter called RUMORS which is available at no cost on the net. It’s for ‘Christians with a sense of humor’.” Please add the instructions to subscribe [below]. If you have a friend you think would enjoy Rumors, and you’d rather not give them the subscribing instructions below, send me an e-mail at ralphmilton@woodlake.com and give me the e-mail address of your friend. If you are using something from Rumors in your sermon, give credit only as appropriate, without stopping the sermon dead in its tracks. I am delighted when Rumors is useful in the life and work of the church. As long as it is within your congregation or parish, you don’t need permission. You are welcome to use the stuff in church bulletins or newsletters. Please say where it came from, and please invite people to subscribe to RUMORS. An appropriate credit line would be; “From Ralph Milton's RUMORS, a free Internet ‘e-zine’ for Christians with a sense of humor." ... and please be sure to include these instructions to subscribe to RUMORS: To Subscribe:* Send an e-mail to: rumors-subscribe@joinhands.com
* Don't put anything else in that e-mail
To Unsubscribe:
* Send an e-mail to: rumors-unsubscribe@joinhands.com
* Don’t put anything else in that e-mail* If you are changing e-mail addresses, and your old address will no longer be in service, you do not need to unsubscribe. The sending computer will try a few times, and then give up..~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*Please Write – If you respond, react, think about, freak-out, or otherwise have things happen in your head as a result of reading the above, please send a note to: ralphmilton@woodlake.com
Who knows, I might quote you in a future issue of RUMORS.All material is copyright © Ralph Milton.~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Preaching Materials for June 15, 2008

R U M O R S # 505
Ralph Milton’s E-zine for people of faith with a sense of humor
2008-06-08

June 8th, 2008

THE TIMES THEY ARE A’CHANGIN’
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Motto:
"A merry heart doeth good, like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones." (Proverbs 17:22 KJV)
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Thanks for all the good stuff you send me. Rumors would be pretty thin gruel without your contributions. Please put your name and where you are from in the body of the e-mail. Do that even if you’ve sent me dozens of contributions over the years. My forgetter and my appetite are the only things that work as well as they used to.

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The Story Lectionary – turning the church upside down
Revised Common Lectionary – old dogs learn new tricks
Rumors – change is good and change is bad
Soft Edges – body and soul
Bloopers – farmers on committees
We Get Letters – good news or bad news
Mirabile Dictu! – five bowels
Bottom of the Barrel – lessons learned
Stuff – (read this only if you would like to subscribe, unsubscribe or are wondering about permissions. That sort of boring stuff.)

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Rib Tickler – The church treasurer was ecstatic.
“Look at this,” she yelled. “We just got a cheque here for $200 thousand.”
“Who is it from?” asked the minister.
“Whoops. Wait a minute,” said the treasurer, taking another look at the cheque. “It says, ‘You will notice that I have not signed the cheque, since I wish to remain anonymous.’”

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Next Week’s Readings – These are the readings you may hear in church this coming Sunday, June 15th, which is the 5th Sunday after Pentecost.

Story Lectionary – This week we have another story about the early church. Peter’s Dream, based on Acts 10:1-48.
Be sure to check out the Reader’s Theatre piece on the Story Lectionary web site. Especially if you are pushed for time, because the thing runs about 8 minutes, and would only need a very short reflection added to make it a complete sermon.
The story has to do with change. Church people often don’t like change in the church. It’s the one stable place in an ocean of change around us. And the rate of change is accelerating. At a recent reception after a memorial service, I found myself in conversation with two young people I’ve known for years. One was undergoing a sex change and the other was planning to get married to a person of the same gender.
Such things were totally unheard of until just a few years ago. Whether you agree or disagree with such things isn’t the point here. Such changes are very unsettling to people because they are asking for a fundamental shift in the values we learned as children. If we didn’t find such issues both intellectually and emotionally unsettling, our values, our sense of morality, would be shallow and facile.
Yes, of course we need to think through the issues and get in touch with the pain and the joy being experienced by people who are struggling to be authentic to their deep spiritual sense of who they are. But at the same time we must be gentle and understanding with people for whom this represents a deep, sea-change of moral values.
Most of us don’t have a big tarp come down out of the sky and voices telling us that fundamental changes are needed. When Peter told some of his Jewish friends about his vision, he would have been most na├»ve if he expected them to say, “Well, yes. Of course. No problem.”
The more fundamental the value, the more difficult it is to change.
Check out the additional resources for the Story Lectionary at:
http://www.story-lectionary.com
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Revised Common Lectionary
Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7) – This is a delightful and powerful story. Three strangers arrive. Abraham does his obsequious host thing while Sarah eavesdrops and giggles.
I know there are many stories of miraculous births in the legends of many peoples, but next to the story of Jesus’ birth, this is the most famous one in our tradition.
The older I get, the more I love this story. A couple of old fogies too wrinkled and dried up to do much of anything, find they are pregnant. And this before high-tech gynecologists learned how get post menopausal women pregnant. (That sentence is a bit misleading, but I decided to leave it as is.)
Medical technology has discovered something else that is equally amazing and delightful. It’s not true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Healthy old brains don’t lose their ability to be creative and innovative. Various forms of dementia can do this, but medical science is zeroing in on that too. Most old brains don’t lose their elasticity. Brains and bodies need exercise and nutrition and if they get that, they can keep on being creative for a good long time.
Sarah’s pregnancy is a great metaphor for us seniors. At least, I’m finding it personally very helpful as I work on the last of the three-volume set of the Lectionary Story Bible. It’s been one of the toughest writing jobs I’ve undertaken. Let’s face it – doing a children’s story around some of Paul’s theologizing – or the prophets – isn’t easy. But the first volume has been published. Volume two is on its way from the printer to Wood Lake right now. And the first draft of the third volume is almost done. It’s easily the most extensive set of children’s Bible stories ever developed.
Sarah and Abe’s story has helped put the gas in my tank. And I’ve needed every bit of it.

Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 – paraphrased by Jim Taylor
God Keeps a Promise
The little girl's eyes suddenly lit up. "Nana!" she said, pointing, "Nana!" And she climbed down from her chair and ran to her grandmother, who had just come in.
1 Granny listens to me.
I tell her my stories, and she believes me.
2 When others blame me, Granny doesn't jump to conclusions.
She doesn't get upset;
she doesn't always support someone else.
She really listens to me.
12 How do I thank her?
13 By running to her with my arms stretched out
whenever I see her.
14 No matter who is there, I run to her.
15 Granny says I'm precious.
16 Everyone else expects me to do things their way.
But Granny doesn't expect me to be anyone but myself.
I would do anything to make my granny happy.
17 I help her set the table, without being asked.
I help her crack eggs for the pan;
I like making beds with her.
18 Even when she has company visiting,
I fling my arms around her neck and hug her.
19 I love going to Granny's house.
I hope God is like Granny.
From: Everyday Psalms
Wood Lake Books.
For details, go to www.woodlakebooks.com

Romans 5:1-8 – This seems to be Paul’s central thesis, and I have no doubt Paul believed it absolutely. I have problems with it.
I confess, without hesitation, that Jesus is my Savior and is my window to God. His life and the way in which he died show me more faithfully than anything else I can think of, what a merciful, just, and loving God is like.
But I don’t understand how Christ’s death on the cross reconciles me to God. My sins, my guilt are real and they stand in the way of my relationship to God. My best metaphor for God is that of “loving parent,” so I believe God wants me to deal with my sin and guilt because they keep me from being who I really am called to be, and because they are a barrier between myself and my parent God. But God doesn’t need any payment – any third party intervention.
God simply wants our relationship to be healed and whole.

Matthew 9:35-10:8, (9-23) – If Matthew took this story directly from Mark, he seems to have added two significant elements to Jesus’ commission. The disciples are to stay in a house that is “worthy,” though it doesn’t say what that implies. And Matthew limits the mission to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
It could be that this was Matthew’s way of protesting against the evangelism among the Gentiles that was already in full swing. This was written after Paul’s letters.
There’s always been a difference between theory and practice in our churches. I’ve never known a congregation that didn’t endorse the theory of welcoming all kinds of people into the faith community. But rather than have them enrich our community, we often do our best to change them into copies of ourselves, so that they look and talk and act the way we do.

An idea!
If you have a child lector, why not use a reading from “The Lectionary Story Bible.” Even if you don’t have a child lector, but the first reading is done while the children are present, it would work well. Then the children present will understand the readings. Perhaps a few adults too.
You can find a story for children based on the Genesis reading in “The Lectionary Story Bible, Year A,” page 133, and on the Matthew reading on page 135.
If you don’t already own a copy of “The Lectionary Story Bible” click the main Wood Lake Publications website at www.woodlakebooks.com, or click on the following address which takes you directly to the “Lectionary Story Bible.”
http://tinyurl.com/2lonod
News! Year B is now available! You can also order it from the website.

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Rumors – Sometime ago I heard a song at a church event called “Embracing Change.” It didn’t say what change to embrace. Just change.
There’s a line in that old hymn, “Abide With Me,” that goes, “Change and decay in all around I see.”
Change is good. Change is bad. Both true. Both false.
The thing is, you never know where change is going to lead. Or where not changing will take you.
Not to change is to change because if you keep doing the same thing in a changing context, it will be different. If you read the same scripture, from the same translation to an eight-year-old and to an 80-year-old, they will hear it differently.
The advent of the automobile and the rumble seat changed the chaperonage system and the development of the birth control pill made recreational sex safe. (Well, not entirely, but that’s what it seemed like a first.) Together they brought about the sexual revolution.
Change for the sake of change isn’t necessarily useful either, but if you drag your feet and insist that the change be examined, you’re soon labeled a stick-in-the-mud. And it’s true that often we do drag our feet (it’s called referring to committee) simply because we don’t want to go through the inconvenience – sometimes the pain – of change.
Changing your brand of toothpaste isn’t going to rearrange your psyche, but some changes are so fundamental, they demand exactly that. You have to dig way down below consciousness to tear out attitudes that are so fundamental to who you are, you wind up bleeding and helpless.
Peter, asking Jews to admit Gentiles into the Jewish sect called Christianity, was as big and fundamental an issue for that tiny church as the issue of same sex marriage is in our day. The stuff that has been “drummed in our dear little ears” since childhood is very hard to change. It hurts, even when that change is absolutely necessary. I wonder if the Jewish-Christian church disappeared because it simply couldn’t go there.
Even when you know all the reasons, and you agree that a change is essential and necessary and just, it can still be painful. Your head can tell you that the fundamental values you learned in childhood are no longer valid or workable, but your belly may have a hard time catching up.
My appeal, in this time of rapid change in the church, is for care and kindness and gentleness and understanding all around. From everybody. From all sides of every issue.

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Soft Edges – by Jim Taylor
Body and Soul
When you read this column, you don’t see me at all – you see only some squiggly marks on paper. Unlike voices, those squiggles don’t make sounds. Unlike art, they don’t represent anything. They carry meaning only because our culture has agreed to assign certain sounds to certain squiggles.
As far as readers are concerned, I don’t need to have a body at all. Only my thoughts matter.
I find I sometimes treat myself the same way. When I work on a column, an article, a story, I am not conscious of my body. I pay no attention to the solidity of the chair beneath me, the temperature of the air around me, the hunger or thirst inside me.
All that matters is the words I put out.
I thought I was alone in this perception of myself. Then, a gardener commented that she ignored her body while working with plants. A painter said the same about painting. And a musician about her music. Even when their bodies demanded food, water, or a bathroom break, they still wanted one more practice run through that difficult cadenza, one more brush stroke to get that shape just right, one more weed to pull or seedling to plant...
We ignore our bodies until they hurt enough to demand attention.
I started wondering: if I were my body, what would I be saying to me?
In one sense, it’s a ridiculous question. It arbitrarily assumes that I exist as two separate entities that can have discussions with each other. But the “I” that responds is the same “I” that asks the question.
And yet it reflects a common perception in our society. We talk about body and soul, as if they were separate things. We believe that something, whatever we call it – soul, spirit, essence – will survive the death of the physical body.
My religious tradition has long made a distinction between flesh and spirit – we are to desire things of the spirit, and to renounce things of the flesh.
The distinction appears mainly in St. Paul’s letters – which were heavily influenced by Greek philosophy. According to Luke’s gospel, Jesus simply said, “Blessed are the poor.” Matthew’s later gospel amended that to a more socially acceptable, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
Paul occasionally takes the distinction to an extreme: “For what I want to do I do not do, but I do what I hate. And if I do what I do not want to do... it is no longer I myself who do it...”
Some other religions probably could not even ask the question, “What might my body be saying to me?” For them, body and soul, flesh and spirit, are all one.
Perhaps there is a me, beyond my body. I can imagine such a state. But I can imagine it only because I have a body that sustains my imagining mind.
For the time being, at least, I am – and can only be – an embodied self.

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Bloopers, Boggles, Typos and Stuff – Beth Hoskins of Woodruff, South Carolina says this appeared in a bulletin last Christmas. “Hark! The Herald, Angels Sin”
Of course, Beth. Isn’t it orthodox theology that only Jesus was without sin?

Jeff Challoner of Red Deer, Alberta, says a local choir presented a “program of madrigals, classical, scared and folk music.”
Jeff, it sounds like some the choirs I’ve been in over the years. They had every reason to be scared.

April Dailey says it’s been a busy time for their secretary in Ford City, Pennsylvania. In one report it was noted that there will be “an award to Dale Swank in recognition of his achievements as a life-long farmer in our committee."
April says the word should have been “community,” but I like the idea of having farmers on our committees. They actually might grow something useful.

From the file –
* Ushers may eat the late arrivals.
* Volunteers are needed to spit up food.
* We are gathering to unite this man and this woman in holy macaroni.

If you’ve spotted any good bloopers in your church bulletin or newsletter, or anywhere else for that matter, please send them to me. ralphmilton@woodlake.com

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Wish I’d Said That! – Gray hairs are signs of wisdom if you hold your tongue, speak and they are but hairs, as in the young. Rabindranath Tagore via Karl Olson

Never believe anything until it has been officially denied.
Claud Cockburn

Every day people are straying away from the church and back to God.
Lenny Bruce

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We Get Letters – Rob Brown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan tells the story of “three spiritual leaders on a TV show. They're answering questions.
The Jewish leader began his comments by saying, "The Torah says . . . "
The Muslim, "The Koran teaches . . ."
The Christian, "It's my opinion . . ."
About the Christian response – is that good news or bad news?

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Mirabile Dictu! – (Latin for “five bowels!”) Peggy Neufeldt of Ponoka, Alberta sent these. They’ve been on Rumors before, but I think there’s been a decent interval since then. My rule of thumb about re-running such things is simply, do they make me laugh again.

Q: Name the four seasons. A: Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar.
Q: Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink.
A: Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists.
Q: How is dew formed?
A: The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire.
Q: How can you delay milk turning sour?
A: Keep it in the cow.
Q: What causes the tides in the oceans?
A: The tides are a fight between the Earth and the Moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature hates a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins in this fight.
Q: What happens to your body as you age?
A: When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental.
Q: What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty?
A: He says good-bye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery.
Q: Name a major disease associated with cigarettes.
A: Premature death.
Q: How are the main parts of the body categorized?
A: The body is consisted into three parts -- the brainium, the borax and the abdominal cavity. The brainium contains the brain; the borax contains the heart and lungs, and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels A, E, I, O, and U.

Q: What is the fibula? A: A small lie.
Q: What does 'varicose' mean?
A: Nearby.
Q: Give the meaning of the term 'Caesarian Section.'
A: The Caesarian Section is a district in Rome
Q: What does the word 'benign' mean?'
A: Benign is what you will be after you be eight.

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Bottom of the Barrel – Neill McRae of Aggassiz, BC, has done some extensive research – it should be worth a PhD in something – which has profound implications for the ecumenical church. Either that, or he found this on the internet.

Year 19811. Prince Charles got married2. Liverpool crowned soccer Champion of Europe3. Australia lost the Ashes tournament.4. Pope DiedYear 20051. Prince Charles got married2. Liverpool crowned soccer Champion of Europe3. Australia lost the Ashes tournament4. Pope DiedLesson LearnedThe next time Charles gets married, someone warn the Pope!

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Information and Stuff – (Read this section only if you want to know about subscribing, unsubscribing or quoting stuff from Rumors.) It would be nice if you could give Rumors a plug in your bulletin or newsletter. Please invite your friends (and even your enemies) to subscribe. There's no charge: RUMORS is free and it comes to your e-mail box every Sunday morning. Just send your friends the instructions to subscribe [below], and include an invitation to join the list ... perhaps something like this: “There’s a lively and fun newsletter called RUMORS which is available at no cost on the net. It’s for ‘Christians with a sense of humor’.” Please add the instructions to subscribe [below]. If you have a friend you think would enjoy Rumors, and you’d rather not give them the subscribing instructions below, send me an e-mail at ralphmilton@woodlake.com and give me the e-mail address of your friend. If you are using something from Rumors in your sermon, give credit only as appropriate, without stopping the sermon dead in its tracks. I am delighted when Rumors is useful in the life and work of the church. As long as it is within your congregation or parish, you don’t need permission. You are welcome to use the stuff in church bulletins or newsletters. Please say where it came from, and please invite people to subscribe to RUMORS. An appropriate credit line would be; “From Ralph Milton's RUMORS, a free Internet ‘e-zine’ for Christians with a sense of humor." ... and please be sure to include these instructions to subscribe to RUMORS: To Subscribe:* Send an e-mail to: rumors-subscribe@joinhands.com
* Don't put anything else in that e-mail
To Unsubscribe:
* Send an e-mail to: rumors-unsubscribe@joinhands.com
* Don’t put anything else in that e-mail* If you are changing e-mail addresses, and your old address will no longer be in service, you do not need to unsubscribe. The sending computer will try a few times, and then give up..~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*Please Write – If you respond, react, think about, freak-out, or otherwise have things happen in your head as a result of reading the above, please send a note to: ralphmilton@woodlake.com
Who knows, I might quote you in a future issue of RUMORS.All material is copyright © Ralph Milton.~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*