Thursday, July 31, 2008

What I Did On My Vacation

I haven’t been blogging lately. I have been visiting my family in Ft. Worth, TX. My mother at 95+ is in a nursing home and spending time with her is a blessing and a heart break at the same time. She can no longer speak—the synapses of the brain don’t fire anymore except on rather rare moments. But we sit and hold hands until she drifts into that doze that so characterizes the elderly. Sometime she knows me and at time—usually later in the day, she doesn’t.

When I have visited Mom all these years, I have gone to church to the large Methodist church in the center of the city. Ft. Worth is the most conservative diocese of the Episcopal Church. It continues to exclude women from priestly ministry and is on the verge of trying to leave the Episcopal Church to join with a church in Brazil. It is quite Anglo-Catholic and the diocesan leaders exude an air of being holier than anyone else. I have generally avoided the Episcopal congregations in Ft. Worth.

Now that I am being a Lutheran ‘for a season’ I need to reacquaint myself with Episcopal liturgy while I am on vacation. So last Sunday found me in a large Episcopal church in Ft. Worth where I thought I would not be tarred and feathered. I sat about 4 or 5 rows back from the altar rail when a woman and her husband came and genuflected and entered the pew. Of course I moved over. I wondered if I had sat in “someone’s pew” as it often seems in a small church, but this parish was too large for that. The couple was friendly and introduced themselves. My collar certainly showed that I was a visitor. There was some chit-chat before the service and I found that they drove over 40 miles to attend this church because of its willingness to be inclusionary and welcoming. Now, a 40 mile drive is not as much to Texans as it would be for NYers. But it was still not the ‘neighborhood church’ that so many of us are used to.

Following the service, I headed for coffee hour—the “Eighth Sacrament” as it is called in the Episcopal world. I didn’t even get to the coffee pot before a priest (the rector) stuck out his hand and was glad to see me. What a relief! Then several more people came around and wanted to meet me. I was rather astounded. These people were starved for contact with Episcopalians like themselves—people who wanted the World Wide Anglican Kafluffle to be over. It was good to be with them.

These are the folks who have to stick it out in the trenches day in and day out with a bishop who refuses to be a part of the Episcopal Church and claims being exclusively Anglican because the Episcopal Church welcomes LGBT people. “Enough, already!” These Christians are crying. “Let’s get on with what it means to love God and let’s quit fighting among ourselves.”

I admire these Episcopalians. I see in this parish in Ft. Worth the kind of church I believed I was a part of when I was ordained 25 years ago. I see in these Episcopalians the kind of church that I have served most of my life—folks who want to love Christ and serve God’s people. I am glad that these kind of Episcopalians exist and continue the tradition of the faith I have known.

Yep, I periodically need to go on vacation to know that that Church still exists—and in all places! Alleluia!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


A Baptismal Letter to
July 20, 2008

Dearest Christine,
You came into our lives at St. Luke’s about the same time I came here as pastor, so I find a real bond with you, my little sister. And on this day of your Baptism I wanted to write you a letter that hopefully your parents will keep for you until the time you can read it for yourself.
I want to welcome you to the household of God. This day of your baptism has been long-awaited for your family, not just your brother, Isaac, your Mom and Dad and your grandparents--but also this loving family of St. Luke’s. You have been a sign of new life for us since you first came among us.
Baptism is the beginning of your life in Christ. It is when all are adopted by God as St. Paul reminds us in today’s epistle. This water I will put on your head signals for all time that you are a child of God and a sister to each and every one of us in the Church. It means that you can call upon God as ‘Daddy’ just as Jesus did and depend upon God for all your needs in your life. This baptism means that you are saved by the gift of God’s grace, that the kingdom of heaven will be your promised land. It means that even though you will sin, you have already been washed in Christ’s blood for all time. The promise of salvation is yours. And that is the beginning of your life as a Christian.
The sacrament—this sign of your belonging will be a source of strength for you all your life. It is a reminder that your parents have brought you to receive this welcome into the faith but also have introduced to you a friend, Jesus, who will be with you all your life. He will teach you how to live in this world. By reading about him in the Bible you will learn what his values are so that you can pattern your life after his. He will help you grow in love for your fellow human beings because he gave his life so that we all might know how to love one another and to triumph over the selfishness of sin.
The white garment that you will be given and the light of Christ you will hold are yours whenever you chose to call upon them. Your covering by water will symbolize that you have chosen to be dead to sin—that you have chosen life and life that may be lived abundantly.
Today you will receive Holy Communion too—that sacrament of love that Christ conferred upon us the night before he died. This sacrament will sustain you when you are hungry for companionship, when you are alone, when you are tempted by sin, when all else seems foreign. It will nourish your faith and fill you with his special love just for you. But he will also teach you to love others and embrace them as family just as Christ has embraced you. This communion with God and with humanity reminds us that we are one with all people in the world and that we are called to care for those who are near as well as those who are far away.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells a parable that reminds that we will be raised with those who do not live as we do. There will be many in your lives that do not follow the way of Jesus. There will be people who are not Lutheran; there will be those who are not Christian but worship in other faiths. There will be those who do not have faith at all. It is not for us to judge them. God will sort that out when the time comes. As a child of God your mission is to live your life as though Jesus was walking with you each moment. It is our work as the good seed of God the sower to grow with integrity, in service of the truth that God teaches us.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t endure problems and even pain. That is a part of life, and we cannot avoid that. But it does mean that you never have to endure that time alone—for Jesus is there. And your community of faith, the Church will be there too.
Faith means that your relationship with Christ will grow. Christ will call you to change over you lifetime and expand your knowledge of what is right and wrong. It will never remain the same, but it will always be rooted in what has happened to you today. It will be rooted in the love that your family has for you but most of all it will be rooted in the love God has for you.
Christine, my hope for you is that you will read this letter as you prepare for your Confirmation so that you will know that your parents and your Church community have started you on the right way—the way of Jesus. The Way of Jesus is a way of living that you will make your own at Confirmation. Welcome to the family of God. You are loved here.

Faithfully in Christ,

Isaiah 44:1-8
Romans 8:12-25
Matthew 13:24-43

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Five: Blog Names

One of the Revgals has a daughter who wants a new blog name on her blog and came up with these questions. They are fun. Thanks, Songbird.

1. So how did you come up with your blogging name? And/or the name of your blog?

As one of the earlier Episcopal women ordained, I was constantly asked “What should we call you?” I had been a Roman Catholic sister whose tradition was to call their choir sisters, “mother” or “mer”. I never liked being called ‘mother’ or ‘sister.’ It took away my personhood, I felt. It was just too easy to commend one to a pigeon-hole if one used only the honorific. So when I was ordained I asked people to call me by my “Christian” name.
Throughout my ministry, however, this was a bit of problem. As the second generation of women began to be ordained, more and more of them took the title “Mother”. I don’t begrudge them the title, but I still have a problem, being single, and childless. “Mother” doesn’t have the gravitas that I believe that the position of priest should have in the congregation. I don’t much like “Father” used for the men either. But I am catholic enough to understand that there is something to be said for the need of a title.
Now that I am working among the Lutherans, I have really come to like the word “Pastor”. I am sorry that they don’t recognize the priesthood portion of the role of Pastor—but I really do like being called “Pastor”. It is what I do! There is no drawing of some ontological difference between lay and ordained. There are no gender hang-ups, and no familial or parental images that often muddy the role. It just feels cleaner.
When I began to blog, I decided to use Muthah+ simply because it seems to articulate the kind of in-your-face type of personality that I am. It also touches on my southern roots and it indicates that I am a priest with the little + at the end (which I seldom really use). And it is so antithetical to what I really believe the role of pastor/priest is supposed to be.
I blog at “Foraseason” and “Stoneofwitness”. ‘For a Season,’ I took directly from the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church when she said we had to put a moratorium on ordaining or consecrating LGBT persons ‘for a season.’ By using that title, I meant to hold her to that promise that it would only be for a while and not for forever. It is now a couple of years along and while we are making headway, the PB has not rescinded that fast. Since it is LGBT folks that are doing the fasting, I am trying to keep ++Katharine’s feet to the fire—not that she reads my blog.
Shortly after starting that blog, however, I was called to serve an ELCA congregation as called pastor. I have been there almost a year now. I will not become a Lutheran—I wouldn’t know how. It isn’t in my Anglican DNA. But For a Season, I am serving in this arm of Christ’s church. I love what I am doing. It is mostly wonderful and mostly strange all at the same time. I feel much like the song “Send in the Clowns”, but I have found a home here for a time. Thank you, God for the opportunity.
The Stone of Witness blog is basically to address the issues that are facing the Episcopal Church in my area. Its purpose is to verbalize some of the questions and issues that are talked about or have been prohibited as topics in our diocese.

2.Are there any code names or secret identities in your blog? Any stories there?

I don’t have too many. J is my roommate of 30 years—not my partner! But is someone I love like a sister or a spouse after years of living together. I am not especially inventive in that way. Perhaps I could do more with that. But I have not kept my identity so secret that I need to cover what I say. That is not the purpose of my blog.

3.What are some blog titles that you just love? For their cleverness, drama, or sheer, crazy fun?

I love Presybi-opia, Hotcup Lutheran, EPISCOPALOOZA, MUCH NOTHING ABOUT ADO, ORDER OF SANTA IGNORA, Wormwood’s Doxy, The Rose Maniple.

4. What three blogs are you devoted to? Other than the RevGalBlogPals blog of course!

I follow Telling-Secrets, Inch at a Time, and Madpriest religiously --er, emmmm.

5. Who introduced you to the world of blogging and why?

A Lutheran pastor started me blogging as a way to keep in touch with my supporters when I went to help after Katrina. I wrote daily which I cannot do now. When I returned, I found that I needed to open a new blog to address some issues facing my diocese.

Bonus question: Have you ever met any of your blogging friends? Where are some of the places you've met these fun folks?

Yes, I follow some of the blogs of my friends and people I know through the Church. I have had dinner with a couple who I never knew before the blog. It is fun. We always meet in a public place like a restaurant. It allows us to both to be safe.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

How does your garden grow?

Proper 10A July 12, 2008

I asked that the whole of the passage from Isaiah be read this morning rather just the verses appointed not only because this in one of my favorite passages in scripture but also because it helps us understand what Isaiah is trying to say.
“The people of Judah and Jerusalem have been in exile. They had been violently removed from their homeland by the Babylonians 40 years earlier. The prophet brings a word of hope of return. This hope is a fulfillment of God’s promise to the people. Earlier the prophet sought to comfort them with the message that their servitude was over. But people who have suffered badly do not embrace hope easily.
The opening of Isaiah Chapter 55 has reminded some of the invitations of the water sellers in the town square, like when we provide water for CROP walkers, but what is offered far exceeds that image. The thirsty and the poor are invited to drink. Neither one’s need nor one’s ability to pay will stifle this gift. Far more than water is on offer – wine and milk, delightful things are for the taking and at no cost.
Normally, to have access to these one had to be a landowner, with vineyards and herds or flocks, or have money to purchase them. Not so here. Nothing is required of the “purchaser” in this deal and nothing is demanded by the giver. The point may not be simply to chasten those who spend frivolously, or to admonish those who fear running out, but to say that nothing we could afford through wealth or effort will satisfy. What matters is listening and responding. That is the key to life.”
Isaiah is reminding the people of God that their purpose is to be the Light to the Nations—the people of a single god in a polytheistic world. They cannot fulfill their purpose in life if they remain in captivity in Babylon. They are to return to Judah and Jerusalem to live out what God has called them to be and who they had covenanted to be. And for the people who were content with their lives in Babylon, it was easier to live in the exile that it was to do the hard work of transformation by returning to Zion.
From the standpoint of a preacher this passage reminds me that God’s word goes out and does not return to God without doing what it was sent for. It reminds me that I don’t always know to whom I am preaching, or for that matter what I am preaching. God is going to do something with what I say if I but remain faithful. God does not depend upon the goodness of God’s servants to work God’s goodness. This theological principle of “ex operae operato”—that the sacraments are effective and made holy not because the pastor or the minister who performs them but because God is holy is an ancient principle in Christianity. I must admit that this sense that God completes what God does despite ineptitude or personal sinfulness is a great relief to those of us who are ordained.
What we hear in this reading is how generous God is. God gives no matter what. It does not matter if there is enough, or if we have the money to pay for it. It doesn’t matter if the people giving or receiving them are worthy or not. God’s generosity says that there will be enough. What we hear in these words is that if we are but faithful, God will provide. If the people of Israel will return to Jerusalem, their purpose will be fulfilled. If we are willing to listen and respond, our purpose will be worked out. It is not our purpose in live that is imporftant—it is God’s purpose for our lives that is important.
In the Gospel we hear of a farmer who is so generous that he flings seed all over the place. Unlike out good upstate NY farmers who are very careful about planting seed only in the fields that have been properly tilled, the sower who is God in Jesus’ parable sows with abandon. He sows in the good soil but he also flings it upon rocky land so that the birds may eat. He slings it among the briars or the bushes or even on the sun-baked clay that won’t receive the seed. It means that grain grows where it will. And for those that harvest, it takes some effort to glean it.
Jesus’ parable is about preparing our patch so God’s word can be fruitful. But paired with the Isaiah reading, it is also about God’s generosity that it matters not where the seed falls, God’s work is going to be realized. God is generous beyond all measure and we are called to participate in that generosity.
Every so often I watch the Televangelists and listen to how God wants them to enjoy the work of Creation. And I agree with that. I do believe that God wants us to know happiness beyond measure. For me that is what Christian hope is about. But all too often that wealth that God promises is seen as material. I don’t believe that God wants me to own a Mercedes-Benz in order to understand God’s generosity. I don’t begrudge others who might have a Mercedes-Benz—I just know that I don’t have to have one in order to be happy. God does work out God’s purpose without a need for THINGINESS. God’s purpose is for us to live in love with God and one another. God’s purpose is that we know what it means to be joyful. And we know that joy in the light of the Cross. We know that joy in the light of God made human so that we might know how to live with one another.
Like the people of Israel who could not live out God’s purpose in captivity, neither can we. We need to live in the liberty of God’s generosity without coveting what others have. There are many Christians who do not know that they are called to joy as Christians. I am not saying that there isn’t heartache in the life of a Christian. Just as Jesus had to deal with pain and suffering, so must we. But I do believe that at the heart of the Christian message is the call to happiness. And the message of a generous God is that ALL are called to that happiness—that our happiness is not at the expense of others.
I am not talking about some “Don’t worry-Be happy” kind of mindlessness. I am talking about that sense of purpose- giving joy that knowing that we are saved by God’s over-arching desire that we be one in Spirit. The Christian life can be lived in life-transforming joy when we put God first. It means that sharing what we have is part of that joy. It means that yes, we must deny ourselves so that others can know joy. It means that practicing our faith is more important that proclaiming what we believe. It means when we cannot be generous, we must recognize that we are being convicted by God’s love so that we may be transformed. God’s purpose is being acted out in our lives so that we may grow, so that we may be changed, so that we may share more profoundly in God’s generosity.
Friday, Judy and I were both off and we made one of our necessary pilgrimages to Barnes and Noble. We don’t always go to buy books; we often go to see what people are saying in the world. We look at the new titles and then we spend a good bit of time at the sale tables seeing what has been said. This time Judy found a book “Black in Selma” written by someone she knew in Selma back during the Civil Rights struggles of the ‘60’s. You would think that the amount of pain and suffering that that event provided her, she would not want to read about it. But she reads such things with joy. It is a touch with the time when God was sowing generosity in her heart. It was when she was most alive and knew that she was doing God’s will. I think God sowed perennials because those issues keep coming up year after year for her. Some of those perennials have been transplanted in me because of her. That is part of the way we propagate the faith.
Periodically we need to tend the garden that God has sown in us. We need to touch again the purpose that God is working out in us. Perhaps we need to plow again some portion of our purpose and allow God to reseed. Perhaps we need to water our gardens, or do a bit of weeding. Sometimes we need to do some transplanting so that God’s generosity can be seen in a broader context. But whatever the condition of our faith gardens we must always be willing to embrace God’s generosity. We must be willing to see it as God’s purpose, not our own. We must be willing to recognize that when we are stingy with our hearts we are giving God short shrift. Our gardens are not plots we guard in our captivity—they are ones that are boundless just as God’s love for us is boundless.
Today I would invite you to ask yourselves how your gardens grow. I would bid you to know the freedom of God’s extravagance but I would also hope for you to know the purpose that God is working out in your lives with Divine generosity. Do you need to tend your garden? AMEN.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Five: Summer Camp

Mother Laura at Revgals has a Friday Five on Summer camp. She says
We're settling into our new new apartment, and after a lifetime at Montessori Katie is having a fantastic summer at YMCA day camp. Meanwhile, Nicholas is packing up for a week at Camp Julian, shared by the Episcopal dioceses of Los Angeles and San Diego. His lists of supplies and rules--except for the ropes course available to the teenagers and the ban on IPODs and cell phones--bring back memories of my own happy times weeks at Y camp Ta Ta Pochon, funded by selling countless cases of butter toffee peanuts. So, in celebration of summer, please share your own memories and preferences about camp.

1. Did you go to sleep away camp, or day camp, as a child? Wish you could? Or sometimes wish you hadn't?

If it wasn’t for Girl Scout I don’t think I would have survived childhood. From the time I went to Brownie camp at the age of seven, I could hardly wait to get back. It was hard for my folks to pay for camp. But I went to camp from the age of 7 to the age of 17 and then I was a counselor for a couple of years during college. Our family was not the most functional group in the world and that 2 weeks each summer was the respite sanity I needed to get through the rest of the year. I remember wanting to go to the Counselor-in-Training course for 6 weeks before my junior year in high school. The house needed painting. So in return for tuition to go to camp, I painted the house. Thanks be to God our house had siding and I only had to do the trim, but in TX heat it was still a daunting task.

2. How about camping out? Dream vacation, nightmare, or somewhere in between?
I had been trained in primitive camping since childhood so camping was in my blood. Camping vacations were all that we could afford. I no longer go camping except in a camper. I don’t sleep on the ground anymore. The body just can’t take it, but I still like to camp. After Katrina I spent 2 months in a borrowed pop-up working along the MS coast at our denomination’s relief workers’ camp. I like being able to wake up in the early morning and walk to a lake or a stream, or the smell of coffee brewing on a camp stove or open fire.

3. Have you ever worked as a camp counselor, or been to a camp for your denomination for either work or pleasure?

I counseled at Girl Scout camps for a number of years and then counseled at a private girls’ camp for really wealthy children. That was very difficult for me. The class gap was difficult, but I found that children with money had just the same kind of problems that my lower middle class friends had. It was the beginning of my awareness that folks were pretty much the same. I never went to Church Camp because we weren’t churched during my childhood.

4. Most dramatic memory of camp, or camping out?
I have a friend, the widow of a fellow clergyman, who loves to fly fish as much as I do. She was getting older and still liked to go to MT –Yellowstone to fish during the summer. One summer she offered to fly me into Bozeman if I could help her drive her RV home. I had neither seen Yellowstone Park nor had I ever fished MT, the holy grail of fly fishers. It was awesome. We even fished in Idaho where I caught a 4lb trout!

5. What is your favorite camp song or songs? Bonus points if you link to a recording or video.
When I was a young child, I learned camp songs both at camp and from my parents. Dad was a big Boy Scouter. In those days we didn’t have a radio in the car, so to entertain ourselves we sang camp songs on long trips. I learned to sing a fairly decent harmony part by the time I was in 4th grade. I am sure that it was camp and camp songs helped me develop into a professional musician in later life. I remember a comment from Garrison Keillor about Lutheran children learning to sing while being held by parents singing four-part harmony. I don’t know if that was what happened to me, I do know that singing those camp songs are some of my earliest and happiest memories. I don’t know how to link and I don’t know where I would find recordings of Skideradinkyidinkydink, or Baby Boats, or Ash Grove. But I do remember those and Purple Owlet, even Holy, Holy, Holy at camp church services.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Pastor and Congregation: A Journey

Whenever there is a change of a leader in whatever position, in an office, teacher, a public office or pastor, it takes a bit of time to understand the new person’s style of leadership. When it is the pastor/priest of a congregation it takes a while longer.

No one likes change. That is a given, but when a congregation calls a new pastor it makes a pledge to work with someone in the process of trying to be the kind of Christian community that the larger community can see and recognize Christ’s presence among them. The pastor also pledges to be that person who will lead the congregation to encounter God. That is a tremendous pilgrimage indeed.

I have found that there are some differences between being a Lutheran pastor and being and Episcopal rector. In the Episcopal Church, the rector is an elected or called leader but is also one who is an agent of the bishop in parish. In the Lutheran tradition, the pastor is called to be completely the agent of the congregation. He or she becomes the “parson”—the old English word for Person—who connects the congregation with the heritage of the larger Church and the traditions of the apostolic faith.

When I speak of an apostolic faith or a catholic faith I am speaking of a traditional Trinitarian understanding of God that has been passed on through the history of Christianity. It is a faith that has evolved and grown over the past 2000 years and continues to be shared by millions throughout the world. And while each denomination of Christianity has its own characteristics, there is a commonality to the faith expressed by mainline Protestant (and in some cases even Roman Catholic) understandings of the church’s relationship with God. It is this commonality that is expressed in the various “pastoral understandings” that allow clergy of differing denominations to serve in other churches.

In the era before wide-spread literacy, the pastor was often the learned soul in the community who provided an educated introduction to God that was not bounded in the superstitions that often are given the guise of religion. He was the one who was trusted by the community to provide clear thinking in matters of faith as well as that connection with apostolic faith. In immigrant congregations when many could not speak English, “Herr Pastor” was often the bi-lingual link to the larger American community. And it is this notion of pastor that still serves in most of our congregations.

But we are in a new age. This Post-modern era is as much a time of new learning as was the Reformation. The internet is as much of a tool of religious growth and new theology as the printing press was for Martin Luther. The laity have as much access to the theology, creeds, Scripture and Scripture study as does the pastor. So the role of pastor is not “Herr Pastor” or some priestly notion that pastors are “holier than the laity”. Much of the job of a pastor these days is to keep the congregation connected not only to the new things but also to the past apostolic faith that has been passed on through succeeding generations. It is, therefore, incumbent on the pastor to be well-versed in the traditions. But the pastor must also be the one who calls his/her congregations to the implications of the Gospel on not only the past but the present age. The pastor must understand the wisdom that resides within the community of the faithful as well as the wisdom of the larger Church as well encourage the dialog between the two.

One of the problems with the role of the pastor in small congregations is that small congregations tend to be where brand new pastors just out of seminary are often called. There new pastors or priests often try out all stuff that they learned in seminary rather indiscriminately. They generally do not have the experience to know that much of the reality of the faith is in the lived-out relationships of people in close-knit communities. There is real wisdom in those communities—a kind of wisdom that one does not learn in seminary. Or small congregations get “visiting pastors” those who stay only a short time never allowing the congregation the experience of having a “parson”, a person of their own that they come to trust to be that God-touched soul in their midst.

So what should one do when an experienced pastor finds herself in a small congregation? One of the things that must be addressed first is the liturgy. The worship of the congregation is the life-blood of the Christian community. If that liturgy is not mirroring the apostolic faith—the traditions of centering on the Eucharist, good teaching, and most of all good involvement of the faithful, then it is time to adjust the worship practice. It is also important for the pastor to make sure that the worship practices are in-line with denominational standards. And most of all, the pastor is responsible to the congregation to provide a place where God may be encountered.

This is often where the rub comes in. Pastors must be change agents—calling their members to know the God that goes beyond the strangeness of new liturgies. They must challenge their flocks to let go of the past and embrace the freshness of God’s never-ending call to be new each day and yet stay fully rooted in the traditions of the apostles. It is a precarious journey because the tension between those two poles is fraught with stumbling blocks. It requires flexibility from members as well as the pastor. And the journey which the congregation pledges to take with the pastor is one in which trust must be at the center. It can only be walked in love.

This is where our faith really kicks in. To trust the pastor means members must step out into the unknown with someone they don’t know very well. For the pastor to trust the small congregation who does not well understand the role of the “parson” means that he/she must be willing to make him/herself open to the pain that they are experiencing so that the common goal of encountering Christ can be met. To walk together is the only way to engage the Christ. And it is this way that we will know Jesus is the Lord of our souls.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fourth of July Friday Five

Sally, a Revgal and one of the across the pond gals has come up with a good Fourth of July play. I too have been in another country on their independence day and have found it fun to celebrate their day. I thank Sally for stepping out of her “Brit” to offer us such a fun set of questions. I think she caught the spirit of the day quite well. At least she doesn’t have to eat hot dogs for the occasion!

Sally says: “I have to admit that I am chuckling to myself a little; how strange it seems for me a Brit to be posting the Friday Five on 4th July! I realise that most of our revgals will be celebrating in some way today, but I hope that you can make a little room for Friday Five! From my short stay in Texas my memories of the celebrations are of fireworks and picnics, one year we went in to central Houston to watch the fireworks and hear the Symphony Orchestra play, we were welcomed and included, and that meant a lot!

So lets have a bit of fun:”

1. Barbeque's or picnics ( or are they essentially the same thing?)

First of all, Barbeques are picnics; venues outside at which Barbeque, the food group, is served. Barbeque is not just a venue at which food is cooked on a grill. It has to be the smoked meat with appropriate rubs or sauces. The barbequed meat is what makes it a Barbeque. If the food is merely grilled and not smoked or sauced it just AIN’T a Barbeque, it’s a Grill.
Picnics are meals held out of doors usually not in one’s own backyard. They can be a sandwich or something more elegant. When we were in France and Spain we picnicked all over, stopping at the local market buying cheese, a bottle of wine, and some prepared foods and lunched magnificently seeing the sights of Europe. It was much better than stopping for a full meal somewhere.

2. The park/ the lake/ the beach or staying at home simply

I have a bit of a rant today. I was wakened this morning—one of the few I really get to sleep in --by the yard men coming to mow the lawn. The sounds of mowers, blowers, and edgers are part of my usual Friday sounds, and I live with them. But do I have to listen to that on the Fourth of July??? I thought it was a National holiday! Jeeesh!

I am staying home and if it doesn’t rain, we are going to GRILL some steaks on the charcoal grill and enjoy reading and lazing around for the day.

3. Fireworks- love 'em or hate 'em?

I like fireworks. I do remember when I was still playing French horn professionally and had to play in our little symphony at the fireworks display every year. It is hard to play Sousa marches when there are explosions going on above you.

The fireworks in our little city are set off not far from where we live, so I guess we will go out on the lawn to watch them tonight.

4. Parades- have you ever taken part- share a memory...
Growing up, the parade I remember the most was not on the Fourth of July but for the Fat Stock Show in February. Because Fourth of July came in summer and school was out, the band never marched in the Fourth of July parade. But at my grandmother’s house in a small Mid-west town, the parade was of kids with bicycles decorated with crepe paper, ”floats” on the back of a farmer’s wagon and the VFW vets marching in their old uniforms that no longer fit. It had a lot of the Norman Rockwell aura about them.

5. Time for a musical interlude- if you could sum up holidays in a piece of music what would it be?
That’s easy! Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” and most particularly the piccolo solo in the last part of that march. But there are other pieces that make the red, white and blue of my blood to rise: “Lincoln Portrait”, Copeland’s “Rodeo”, Charles Ive’s “Variations on America.”

Just to show how much has changed musically, it is interesting how much Charles Ives has come into the realm of the ordinary just since my youth. He was considered very avant guard when I was in college. Now, no one bats an eyelash at his dissonance today.