Monthly Archives: December 2012

Jesus and The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

It is a horrible thing to have the thought on Sunday morning, “I should have done this with the sermon!”  But that is what happened this morning.  (Truth be told it happens more than we would like to admit!)  I was going through my sermon in my head, thinking about the children’s sermon, wondering what to say about Jesus getting lost in the temple.

I could talk about getting lost (which is probably what I am going to do) but somehow had a flashback to being in the 4th

booksGrade.  I had a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Upchurch.  After lunch everyday we would have story time.  I remember her reading  Charlotte’s Web (how we were pulling for Wilbur!) She also read to us the wonderful story of The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  It is the story of two children who run away from home and hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  To be honest, I don’t remember the entire story, but even now remember how they took baths in the fountain, and took coins that they used for food.

So this morning (this really does come together) I started wondering about 12 year old Jesus.  He was gone for 3 days in the temple.  There are all sorts of questions that came to my mind!

  • What did he eat?  Have you ever tried to feed a 12-year-old boy?  Where did he get all that food?  How did he pay for it?  Or is this a miracle that didn’t get recorded?
  • Where did he sleep?  Do you think he snuck back into the Holy of Holies to sleep in his Dad’s room?
  • What was going on with those elders?  Did they not become a bit suspicious about this kids who is hanging out at the temple and doesn’t seem to have anyone looking out for him?  Did they ask any questions?  Did they invite him home for the evening?

As you can imagine, none of this made my sermon this morning.  (You can read what the good people at Providence heard this morning here.)


Maybe in three years when this text shows up again….


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Some Questions to Ponder

New Years can be a time to take stock of our lives, to ask some important questions. I came across a wonderful article about our worldview, how we interpret reality. ( It gives us a place to live, a perspective from which to interpret our lives.
So while you wait for the ball to drop, rather than talking about who is wearing what, or whether or not their defense will hold, what about talking and thinking about something important, maybe even life changing?

Who am I?
Do I have a body or does my consciousness arise from the combination of cells that is my body?
Do “I” survive the death of my physical body?
Should I believe what seems popular or strategic to believe, or can I truly think for myself and trust my direct experience?
Am I part of a larger power or intelligence than me?
If so, how do I relate to or communicate with it?
Is it separate from me?
What gives meaning to my existence?
What is my purpose and the purpose of life?
What is the nature of my connection with others?
What does it mean to love and be loved?
What do I need to be fulfilled?
What are basic human rights?
What is freedom?
Should others be able to tell me what I can exchange, ingest, or do…or should I be able to decide these things for myself.
Which is more primary in finding our way, the rights of the individual or the opinion of the majority about what’s “good for the group?”
Is our reality bounded or open?
Is the universe basically trustworthy or not?
Is there such a thing as good and evil?
What is integrity, and does it matter to the quality of life?

Of course, you could just watch football and eat more dip!
The choice, and the worldview, is yours!

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The Gospel and Willie Nelson

If you ask me, Willie Nelson is one great American!


When we moved Savannah to Austin we went to eat at Stubbs—not only for the great BBQ, but because Willie has played there!  (My guess is that Willie has played a lot of places in Austin, but I had my picture made with this sign!)

Any way, I have always loved Willie’s music.  So I was thrilled to get his latest book for Christmas, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road.  It is full of wonderful little stories, and thoughts, and even theology.  Like this:


I have spent all my life in church.  The Bible says that our body is our church, our temple, and I have spent seventy-nine years in this temple.  We all live in church.

Church is not a building; it is our body, our temple, and we should take care of our church.  It is the only one we get this lifetime, and we will be judged by the way we treat it.  The better we treat our body, the longer, healthier the life we will have, and the more we will be able to do for the world and ourselves.  We are our brother’s keeper, and he is ours.  Treat him the way you want to be treated.  You get back what you give.  Good for good, bad for bad; for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  If you dish it out, you better be ready to take it.




We were made in his image. Duh!  Why don’t we know it and act like it?  If we admit that we are children of God, we can go a long way towards fixing what’s wrong.  Maybe that is our reason to be here, end of story.

I don’t know where Willie’s theology came from.  Perhaps from his grandmother; or maybe the Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal churches he grew up attending; or maybe the gospel he has discovered on the road all these years.  We can’t rule out that maybe it has come from one of his “special” cigarettes he has been smoking since he gave up the “normal” ones.

Not sure I even agree with all of it, but it is better than a lot of the theology that will be spouted from pulpits this week!  Maybe even mine!

At the very least, it is something to ponder in your heart (that is my sermon this week) while you sing a Willie song!

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When the Mayans are Wrong–A Pastor’s Lament!

Twas the Friday before Christmas and all through the church

Pastors are panicked!  We’re all in a lurch!

The Mayans were wrong and the world did not end,

I needed a sermon, but where to begin!

The people are coming.  They do every year.

For many the only time they’ll be here!

A sermon they want, something wonderful and wise,

Something touching that might bring a tear to their eyes.

The pressure is building, “I’ll never get through!

Not only a sermon, but I’ve got shopping to do!”

Away to the files I fly with a gasp.

Perhaps there is something from a sermon long past.

I can’t move the seats, I’ve done that before

I can’t be too dense, I don’t want to bore!

Forget about Micah and Samuel and Psalms

I need something new and not very long.

And just when I’m desperate and start to despair,

When tears start to form and I can’t find much air,

My eyes catch a glimpse-it can’t be a fluke!

I go with the basics, St. John and St. Luke!

I’ll take it way back to the beginning of time,

(What if I did this sermon in rhyme?)

I’ll tell them the story of angels in air

For when all is said, that’s why they are there!

To hear about Joseph and Mary and child.

To hope that perhaps in a world that’s gone wild

Peace might be present, it might just come near,

If we hear the message, “I’ve good news, don’t fear.”

So forget about Mayan Apocalypse, Shopping

A sermon is waiting, I’ve got to get hopping.

So join us on Sunday, and Monday night too,

To see if this if the sermon is actually through.

It really won’t matter, cause nothing I say

Can capture the wonder of this Christmas Day.

It’s the story we tell!  That always is true-

God loves us all!  Merry Christmas to you!

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