I always laugh about spilled cream

I always laugh about spilled cream,
even the special from-the-farm whipping cream
from well loved cows
in a glass bottle,
which tips over in my friend’s kitchen
when she hit it with the hand mixer.

“Whoops, chemo-brain,” she says,
and we start pushing the counter flood
back into the bowl
with our hands
(the sponges are disgusting)
while dancing around
to prevent beagle bellyache
from too much dairy
before we can mop up the floor.

She’s been telling me
that they are going later in the week
to buy a grave,
also apologizing that the crust
on her perfect strawberry-rhubarb pie
is a little brown —

that’s when the cream went,
and I’m glad I remember my mama’s words,
“it’s no use crying …”

My friend and I have shared tears
for many, many years,
but on the balance
there has been so much more laughter.

(sometimes I just share a personal poem — this is for Diane)

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Children’s Song for Mark 6: 1-13 “Welcome” from Aotearoa

Lynne Frith writes “I’ve been a bit inactive on the writing front, but today came up with a brief song for Sunday 8 July, to use after talking with the children about welcome and hospitality(Mark 6:1-13).

We will follow the song with greeting each other and welcoming visitors.

Here it is, sung to the tune “Hush-a-bye-baby”. (United States “Rock a-Bye-Baby”) It would be simple enough to add other verses, by changing lines 3 and 4, to further describe who we might be welcoming e.g if you’ve taken a bus, or travelled by car…..

Welcome to all,
Whoever you are,
If you live near
Or have come from afar.
We’re glad to meet you,
To see your face,
And now we greet you,
Sharing God’s grace.

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July 4, 2018, This Land is Made for You and Me

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I saw my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking

Is this land made for you and me?

“This Land Is Your Land” is one of the United States’ most famous folk songs. Its lyrics were written by Woody Guthrie in 1940 based on an existing melody, in response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”, which Guthrie considered complacent and not realistically critical of America – Of course, Irving Berlin was an immigrant and a case can be made that many immigrants so love their new countries that they are very non-critical. Others are fearful to even whisper a complaint. Guthrie varied the lyrics over time, sometimes including more overtly political verses depending on the occasion.

One thing that I consider very interesting is how this song itself travels … in Canada, it goes like this …

This land is your land, This land is my land,
From Bonavista, to Vancouver Island
From the Arctic Circle to the Great Lakes waters,
This land was made for you and me.

And in the United Kingdom , the lyrics are:

This land is your land, this land is my land,
From the coast of Cornwall to the Scottish Highlands,
From the sacred forests to the holy islands …

Of course there are separate versions for both Wales and Ireland!
In the Bahamas …

This land is your land, this land is my land,
From Grand Bahama down to Inagua
From the Berry Islands, down to Mayaguana …

In Aotearoa New Zealand written by high school students …

This land is your land, this land is my land
From Paihia to Stewart Island
From Lake Te Anau to Rotorua …

There are versions for Sweden and Namibia and Israel and India, Here is India:

This land is your land, this land is my land,
From the Himalayas, down to Cape Comorin
From Mumbai city to old Calcutta
This land was made for you and me.

Back to the United States — For July 4, 2018

This land is my land, I won’t deny it –
I name the sorrows, but I’m not above it —
from the Trail of Tears to the Middle Passage
the pain of others profits me.

From Charlottesville to blood soaked high schools,
from families shattered to travel ban rules,
when a pipeline crosses a sovereign nation
the chance of change comes down to me.

And so for Bears Ears and Tornillo’s tent street,
for Melania’s jacket and Roseanne’s harsh tweet —
I am confessing, I’ve dropped the blessing —
maybe not you, but surely me!

Across our borders the walls are rising.
Lawmakers’ votes show compromising.
The songs are old but we’re harmonizing –
our children’s hope is you and me.

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

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Canada Day — Guest Post, Brian Fraser

I am re-printing Brian Fraser’s reflection for Canada Day from the online church Casa.

As we approach our national holiday in Canada, my attention is drawn to the fact that most of those in my wonderful group of reflective, resilient church servants and friends are ‘settlers’ in our lands. We or our ancestors came ‘from away,’ and dispossessed the peoples who were on these lands when we arrived. We or our ancestors were often fleeing some form of tyranny and seeking a space to construct a different reality. But did we?

There is an old Canadian hymn, written by Robert Murray and sung to ‘Ellacombe’ that begins with these words, “From ocean unto ocean our land shall name you Lord, and, filled with true devotion, obey your sovereign word.” They were written in an imperial time for an imperial purpose. But what might happen today if our devotion and obedience was to a decolonizing Jesus and what might happen today if Jesus’ friends critiqued the imperial powers and pretensions of this age as resiliently as he did in his.

The First Nations version of the Canadian flag below speaks powerfully to me about the reconciliation I pray and work for among all the peoples who call or seek to call Canada home.

We pray to you this day, O Lord,
deeply aware that the treasures you created us to be,
and that we still have the potential to become,
are enmeshed in earthen vessels
and entangled in generations of rebellion
against your loving constraints.

You created us to be a little less than you,
but still less.
You created us to work with you in cultivating creation,
but with you.
You gave us astounding gifts to serve you,
but to serve you.

Help us see
that our fears and angers,
that our violence and victimizing,
that our exploitation and excess,
all arise from the rupture in our relationship with you.

Help us see, simultaneously, that you embrace us
with a forgiving and redeeming love
that changes everything.

In Jesus Christ, you reconciled the world to yourself.

That is gospel.
That is eternal life.
That is justice, kindness, and humility.

May your lands be peopled with friends
who find in devotion and obedience to you
the true source of flourishing.

This flag was designed by an Kwakwaka’wakw artist named Curtis Wilson on Vancouver Island.

Brian Fraser is minister with Brentwood Presbyterian Church in Burnaby, BC. He served for 17 years as dean of St Andrew’s Hall, the Presbyterian College at the University of British Columbia, and taught Canadian church history at Vancouver School of Theology. You can find out about the work and witness of Brentwood at http://www.brentwoodpc.ca.

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What I did instead of marching — Families belong together

I am not marching today —
instead I officiate at a wedding.
The readings are printed in Spanish.
The bride is radiant;
the groom, (as grooms often are)
would rather be
with the kids in the basketball league,
but the shine in her face
reflects from his eyes.

I am wearing an ambulatory
heart monitor, so everywhere I walk
someone is watching my heart.
I recommend this for members
of all three branches
of our government.

I am not marching today,
but I wear a beautiful dress
and speak beautiful sacred words.
People are laughing
and eating and dancing.
Two families from different places
are becoming one –
families belong together.


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Supreme Court on Janus v. AFSCME

My father was a labor organizer
and my husband is a union steward.
My child went to college
with a scholarship from the union.

Now, I always worked more with roses
than with bread,
but I know that when the court
takes the support of benefitted workers
who are non-members
away from collective bargaining,
it is …
no, it is a not a beginning.

For we are already deep slice and sharp thorn
into dividing of rich and poor
and stripping those who fight for justice.

Very soon we will all
be trying to feed our children crumbs
and I fear it will be a time of beast forever
when the last petal falls.

“Hearts starve as well as bodies – give us bread but give us roses.”
Bread and Roses Strike 1912, Lawrence Textile Mills.

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Retreats to Go — Twelve Creative Programs that Renew and Refresh

Let’s go on retreat!
Retreats to Go: Twelve Creative Programs that Renew and Refresh
by Susan J. Foster is a new book that I had the pleasure to be a beta reader, do a bit of coaching and write the foreword.

“Retreats to Go” by Susan J. Foster is a new book that offers everything you need to plan your next retreat. Each Scripture-based theme includes resources for ice breakers, music, quotes, small and large group activities, reflection questions, worship materials, and craft ideas. Designed for those who wish to lead retreats but may not have time for research and planning, this helpful guide offers engaging, easy-to-use programs for adults and older teens. The flexible format can be used for a weekend retreat, a day away, or weekly study group gatherings. In fact you can pick and choose activities, worship resources, biblical passages, even games.
You can order a copy direct from the publisher ($24): https://wipfandstock.com/imprint/wipf-and-stock-1. It’s also going to be available on http://www.amazon.com ($30) in September.
If you would like help planning your next retreat or would like Sue to lead a retreat or workshop for your group, please email her at ewccpastor@gmail.com

Let me add a little to the publisher’s information from the end of my foreword to show you how practical this is!

“There are some very specific gifts.

Sue gives detailed content in a mix and match layout so that a retreat planner can use each of the twelve themes at any different length. She also provides general guidelines and specific advice on the retreat format itself so that a reader can choose a completely different theme or scripture and create unique content following her pattern.

Sue also understands long ministry in one congregation, and addresses the need of former participants for an experience to be “just as good as last year,” and the need of newcomers to be immediately included so they do not feel like outsiders.

Sue creates an environment that is safe for introverts, fun for extroverts and compassionate for all. By encouraging a team process for retreat planning, she also leaves a blessing possibility open. Even while being responsible for leadership and caretaking of participants, the pastor, lay leader or faith formation director who coordinates the event also can be renewed and refreshed. We all know what it is to need a retreat!”

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