Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Here in Custer we’ve been waiting for the glory of spring.  I surmised that this year we might actually be able to plant potatoes on Good Friday as the old, wives’ tale suggests.   Since we had nearly the latest Holy Week date that is possible, digging in the dirt didn’t seem a completely unreasonable Good Friday task.   I even talked to Anita Swanson who is heading up the church community garden this year.  After I left a message on Anita’s machine on a lovely, sunny day three weeks ago , it began to snow.  We’ve had snow on and off ever since.  We had our Good Friday walk a week ago in wet, horizontal snow.

A friend of mine who teaches religion at Grandview University in Des Moines  made the mistake of griping about the Iowa weather last week in a nice, little poem that he posted on Facebook.  The following is the real-live response that he got from his on-line buddies.  Interesting how a touch of the doldrums, Easter, completing routine tasks, scriptural quotations, and a character from Winnie the Pooh all seem to fit together quite logically.  For those of you who don’t follow the “Facebook thing”  the person’s name comes first, then the person’s comment.  The exchange begins with the poem that Rev. Dr. Jones posted:

Ken Sundet Jones

papers to grade
meetings with students
the semester will be done
and did i mention rain?

Pastor Bob Chell you ARE Kenny Raincloud.

Ken Sundet Jones I think that’s pronounced “Professor Eeyore.”

Pastor Bob Chell lol. Perfect! Rainy Day here too!

Tammy Anderson Snow here.

John Bjorge In Seattle… we know rain!

Jeff Sackett ‎”Like the rain and snow come down from heaven….” Isaiah 55:10

John Bjorge But I want my Beloved to say to me “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone!” Song of Solomon 2:10-11

Tom Opoien It’s been snowing for three days in Custer.

Pastor Bob Chell but you’re in CUSTER! We’re on the boring plains!

Ken Sundet Jones Could we please bring the topic back around to ME?

Jeff Sackett Nice to see the old Adam is still alive and kicking….

Pastor Bob Chell ‎…and whining

Ken Sundet Jones That’s me: the alivest, kickingest, whiniest old sinner around. Ready for what’s to come later this week (and I don’t mean the last day of class this semester). “Wretched man that I am, who will rescue me from this body of death?”

Ida Rounds The son is coming. The sun is coming. That should help. It shines upon us this afternoon. Thank goodness.

Steve Snyder I thought I was Eyore?

Darin Wiebe A haiku for you:

Grade us, good Doctor.
Thy semester will be done.
And still, rain will fall.

I’ll leave you with a couplet of my own.

Indeed, rain and even snow will fall,

Guided by the creator  of all.

The Problem of a “Late” Easter

Ever wonder how the day that Easter falls each year is determined?  During one of the Wednesday nights in Lent, we heard from a panel of folks who all worked with numbers.  Someone asked the question, “What’s the most difficult math problem you’ve ever encountered?”  It turns out figuring out Easter is a pretty tough math problem which involves not only math, but also astrological, calendar, and theological problems.

“The first Sunday following the full moon which falls on or after the equinox will give the lawful Easter” wrote a monk named Bede in the year 725.  This works, sort of.  You get into trouble when you realize that the “full moon involved (called the Paschal full moon) is not an astronomical full moon, but the 14th day of a calendar lunar month.”  Don’t ask me what that means, I just read it on Wikipedia.

All of this means that Western Christians (think Roman Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, etc.) often celebrate Easter on a different day than Eastern Christians (think Russian or Greek Orthodox).  But not this year.  Every so often, the stars align (or perhaps we should say, the full moons align) and this year, Eastern Christians and Western Christians both celebrate Easter on April 24.

Not only do the West and East agree this year, but Easter is also the latest possible day by only one day (at least according to Western Christians).  April 25 is the latest we Lutheran Christians can possibly have Easter and it hasn’t fallen on this date since World War II was raging and it won’t happen again until Dick Clark is 108 years old (that’s 2038 according to most estimates of Dick Clark’s age).  All this is to say, we will wait longer this year than any other year in the span of a lifetime for Easter to come.

We live as Christians in a world where Easter seems “late,” don’t we?  We live as Christians in a time when it’s hard to figure out exactly when (not to mention, how) to celebrate Easter, don’t we?

Because it’s not just figuring out a date on a calendar.  Perhaps that’s the easy way out.  We look around us and it’s easier to see signs of the cross, death, destruction and chaos than it is to see signs of Easter, life, God-among-us-as-stone-rolled-back.

Still, they are there.  Blades of green grass pushing through stacks of snow.  Snow geese flying in the opposite direction they did last fall.  A whole community over-filling a high school theater because they care about education or a whole community gathering in a sanctuary for a funeral (regardless of which ‘brand’ of Christianity they identify as).  A hug.  A smile.  A chickadee chirping.  A deer’s look.  The sun rising or setting another day.

Easter will come again this year, we as Christians proclaim in our own time and space (think west or east, rich or poor, northern or southern hemisphere, young or old).  God will be with us, even if we can’t explain exactly who or how the stone moved from our heart.  Christ crucified will be raised to new life, even if we can’t describe the proof of how we arrive at a body with no breath now walking through doors, sharing peace and saying it’ll come again.

Maybe it’s as far away as the stars.  Maybe it’s as close as our hearts.  Either way, we proclaim Christ not-only-crucified, but also risen.  Risen, indeed!  …even if we can’t agree most years what day of the year to proclaim it.

Vocation week 4 and 5

I got behind on the videos for Lent.  Here are the last two puppet skits.  The first is on the theme of building, the second on creativity and teaching.  The sound didn’t come through perfectly, so you’ll need to turn up your volume.

Vocation in Lent 3: Strength in weakness

Here is the puppet skit for our third Wednesday night presentation on vocation.  The puppets did a skit speaking about weakness.  Vocation is more than personal fulfillment in our work.  Sometimes God needs us most clearly in the difficult parts of our labors.

Click on the play arrow to see the video.