Monday Muse: Calvin & Hobbes

This week’s reading is a favorite book that barely missed the cut on my list of five books to read before seminary. It’s The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book, by Bill Watterson.

Calvin and Hobbes 10th AnniversaryIf you’re not familiar with their antics from Calvin and Hobbes’ many years as a newspaper comic strip, young Calvin and his tiger Hobbes are a delightful duo, mischievous and imaginative and hilariously candid. They conspire against the babysitter, “transmogrify” themselves into random creatures, endure the childhood injustices of school and bath time and family camping trips, and imagine the world from the perspective of a T-Rex. Calvin is simultaneously boisterous and uncertain, while Hobbes succeeds in sarcasm and wisdom.

The Tenth Anniversary Book provides the bonus of Watterson’s insights to his own cartoons: personal stories that inspired particular C&H strips, reasons for his artistic choices, letters received from readers, syndicate and copyright issues, as well as environmental concerns, questions about God and death and evolution, analyses of our relationships with media … in other words, comic strips about life and faith and big questions, the sort of things we talk about in church but in our very best “adult” voices. Watterson reminds us that we don’t have to be grown-up or serious to explore the important stuff of life.

Monday Muse: The Collective Epiphany

Have I mentioned that I’m not a fan of the New Year’s holiday? Really I can take it or leave it. For one thing, it’s a whole lot of hype & fireworks & store sales just to hang up a new calendar. For another, I might be a little resistant to change.

So New Year’s strikes me as a holiday to (1) mourn the past & the unstoppable tide of change, and/or (2) kick & scream in the face of whatever unknown lies ahead.

fireworks_1_bg_070402

It’s better if I just go to sleep and don’t bother seeing in the new year.

Still, New Year’s is one of those holidays to which many churches give a liturgical nod, in part because the themes of New Year’s are well-suited to the celebration of Epiphany: new resolutions and new revelations, contemplating goals and contemplating visions, praying for the unknown that lies ahead and praying to the Unknown that is unfolding.

The good news of Epiphany over New Year’s, however, is its focus on God doing a new thing (whilst anything I do is pretty darn predictable…like finishing the Christmas cookies in one sitting under the guise that I’ll start a new diet tomorrow). Seriously, thank God for doing a new thing, because I’m predictable and I don’t like change so it’s a reasonable guess that “new thing” is not my forte.

But here’s the twist — the surprise, the wonder, the realization: when it comes to Epiphany, the new thing that God is doing just might be us. Take another look at Isaiah 60:1-6:

Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. It’s time, let’s go! And not just you … y’all get up. Second person plural (see the preceding Isaiah 59:21). One & all, here we go! God is your light, God’s glory has crowned your head and ignited the synapses between you. It is your time to shine for God’s sake. Get up!

For darkness shall cover the earth like a fog, and dense clouds will hide all people from one another, but the LORD will arise upon you and God’s glory will be over you. Seriously, it’s time! The grace that you know, the passion for justice that you share, the fellowship that binds you: these are needed to bear witness to the dawn!

Lift up your eyes and look around: nations shall come to your light, people will gather together; your sons shall return from their wars and your daughters shall find healing. Do not be shy or fearful. Look and see the light that you have been given to shine together. Live boldly as the very best community that God has called you to be, and watch how others come to join with you in beaming with God’s Spirit.

Then you shall see and be radiant. Your heart shall thrill and rejoice! You will be surprised by the gifts that are shared — brought by sea and by camel — in joyful praise of the LORD. Let grace beget grace, let joy beget joy, let light beget light, to the glory of God!

You — and me, and us, and all people as far as you can imagine with your arms stretched wide — together we are the new thing that God is doing in this world, for the sake of the world. Beloved Community, there is a Spirit upon your head, a word upon your tongue and a light within your core, and this is the new thing that God has given to you to shape your path … the new thing that God has given to the world to bolster its spirits.

While New Year’s resolutions draw us individually inward for personal reflection & self-development, Epiphany’s revelation draws us outward to community for radiating & gathering & radiating some more. Set your individual goals if you will, but make one of them “Shine with others.” Mourn the past if you need to (I do) and scream at the future if it helps (it does), but participate in the bright new thing that God is doing — which is you, second person plural.

CALL TO WORSHIP
One: We are searching for a light to guide us.
All: Arise, shine for our light has come!
One: We are longing for inspiration to motivate us.
All: The glory of the LORD has risen upon us.
One: We are wishing for the world to change.
All: Look around: people are looking for God’s light in us.
One: We are ready to see what God can do!
All: Our hearts rejoice in God’s glory! We join together to shine!

Laundry

The laundry seems eternal:
another load of whites
another load of darks
piled high in anticipation
of a soapy wash cycle.
I sigh over the never-ending
presence of my laundry,
constant need for attention
. . . . . . .
and then a chuckle
a roll of laughter as I realize
that you, O my God, are in fact
a Holy Pile of Laundry
eternally present
and ever calling!

(To complete the Holy Trinity
and my playful unorthodoxy:
is Jesus then
the Cleansing Washer
and the Spirit
a Tumble of Hot Air?)

Responses to “I’m a Church Pastor”

It’s inevitable. Adults make small talk — on the soccer field or at the coffee shop or in the local garage — to pass the time or introduce themselves to a frequently-seen stranger.

Adult1: “Hello, I’m [name].”
Adult2: “Nice to meet you. I’m [name].”
Adult1: “Which [soccer-playing child or caffeinated beverage or car problem] brings you here?”
Adult2: “[Such-and-such].”
Adult1: “Ah yes.” …pause… “So, [name], what do you do?”

And there it is, the bound-to-be-asked question. My answer — generally unexpected by the ask-er — prompts interesting responses, but I’m beginning to see a trend in those responses.

  1. Often, the word “God” notably increases, along with “faith” and “prayer.” Also, swearing decreases to zilch.
  2. The occasion for and experience of the individual’s last visit to church is shared, usually accompanied by an upbeat “Maybe I’ll attend your church sometime!”
  3. Sometimes a theological question or cultural impression of the Church is raised.
  4. And, every once in a while, my answer “I’m a church pastor” completely kills conversation.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be so amused by the predictability of people’s responses to my career/vocation. I understand that it’s a surprising answer, perhaps all the more because I’m a 30-something woman in a religiously & socially conservative area. And although I recognize each of these conversations as an opportunity to represent (perhaps even change someone’s mind about) the Church and ministry and women ministers in particular … still I find myself brainstorming wisecrack answers to disrupt the predetermined conversation that is likely to follow.
1. Intentionally insert the pronoun “She” for God.
3. :