Monthly Archives: June 2014

Sit On It!

sitonit

Ayyyyyyyyyyyy! Happy Days was the sitcom of my childhood. It started out a little edgy–remember when the reefer smoking beatniks visited the Cunnunghams?–and then got dumber and dumber until the Fonz literally jumped the shark. And of course it must have spun off nearly a dozen other shows. But there for a while Fonzie was the man and elementary school kids of the 70s were fluent in 50s slang (or maybe just Happy Days slang). We even had a record, the final track a collection of Fonzie catch phrases so you could practice them at home. That settles it, I’m greasing back the hair today. Later, nerds!

A Work in Progress

This one is a little different in that it seems like it never got off the ground.  I think it’s from May, 2012.  Sometimes when I write these I know where I’m headed, but a lot of the time I don’t.  Even then I usually get there.  This time it doesn’t look like I did.  There at the end you can see me admitting defeat.  I probably read something from The Book of Common Prayer.  Rather than take another go at it, I present it to you as I found it, sort of almost complete.  Maybe there’s something there that will work for you.  Maybe there’s enough there for you to turn it into something.  You have my permission to do that.

 

This morning I was going to offer as sort of a primer on communion–something that started, “Communion is simply this . . . ”

And then I made the mistake of thinking a bit about it, and then doing a bit of research about it.

There is a lot of really interesting historical scholarship about the Lord’s supper, and Lord’s supper theology,  and different ways to do the Lord’s supper.

And it became like trying to explain a joke.  You can explain why something’s funny, but when you do that, it’s no longer funny.

I could pass on all the information I came across, most of it really interesting, but I think most of the meaning might be lost in all the information.

So I’ll try to be brief.  The Lord’s Supper shows up pretty early on in the church.

First Corinthians, written 20 -25 years after Jesus died, contains the earliest reference to the Lord’s supper

The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”   In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

So there you go.  For 2000 years the church, in a wide variety of ways, has used this part of our worship, to remember Jesus.  To bring the focus of all that goes on on a sunday morning, of all that goes on in our lives on the other 6-and-a-half days of the week, back to Jesus.  It’s a time for us to remember Jesus.  To remember what Jesus did for us.  And what he does for us.

So what did Jesus do for us.  He lived.  He died.  He rose again.

What does that mean to us?  It means that we have been reconciled with God.

 

through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds as shown by your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-

Communion, or the Lord’s Supper shows up pretty early on in the church.

 

First Corinthians, written 20 – 25 years after Jesus died, contains one of the earliest references to the Lord’s supper.  I’ll read some of that in a bit.

Good morning.  I’m Matt Sears . . .

 

While our whole worship service, the songs, the prayer, the sermon, the kids, the saying good morning to each other, is focused on Jesus and the good news that he brings, Communion, as I see it, is the quiet alone time with Jesus.  When each of us remembers what Jesus means to us.

 

I would encourage each of you to take the time at some point in your life, to think about what that is, what it is you think Jesus has done for you, what he does for you.  To put it into writing.

 

However, speaking from experience, I’d give yourself more than a couple days to get it done, particularly if you’re planning on sharing it in front of the congregation on Sunday morning.

It seems that to me that we take this time in So there you go.  For 2000 years the church, in a wide variety of ways, has used this part of our worship, to remember Jesus.  To bring the focus of all that goes on on a sunday morning, of all that goes on in our lives on the other 6-and-a-half days of the week, back to Jesus.  It’s a time for us to remember Jesus.  To remember what Jesus did for us.  And what he does for us.

 

Good morning.  I’m Matt Sears . . .

It is my understanding that Jesus is the reason that we are here.  And really, our whole worship service, the songs, the prayers, the sermon, the kids, the saying good morning to each other, focuses on Jesus and the good news that he brings, Communion, as I see it, is the quiet alone time with Jesus.  When each of us remembers and thinks about what Jesus means to us.

And so I would encourage each of you to take the time at some point in your life, to think about what that is, what it is Jesus has done for you, what he does for you, and to put it into writing.

However, speaking from recent experience, I’d give yourself more than a couple days to get it done, particularly if you’re planning on sharing it in front of the congregation on Sunday morning.

With that said, I’d like to share one of my favorite “communion meditations”.

The Sitter

I like this one.  It brings me right back to the house of that terrible sitter.

 

the sitter

 

a mangy shack of a thing

across the street from the giant grain elevators

next to the railroad tracks

 

a mean little place

in the middle of a neighborhood

abandoned by time

 

waist-high wire fence

surrounds the place

weeds grow up along side

 

framing the paint chipped house

and the neglected lawn

a portrait of loss

 

we enter the house

gloom settles over me

dryness grips my eyes and nose

 

inside the gray front room I meander

my brother stays beside mother

as she talks with the sitter

 

as I wander careful not to touch

any of the vague colorless furnishings

an old eye watches me warns me

 

my mother’s green dress

the only color in the room

and that soon is gone

 

the husband behind us

sleeps snores snorts in his Lazy Boy

as we try to enjoy Speed Racer

 

at first commercial break

the TV is turned off and

we are banished to the outside

 

to roam around the back yard

with a rusted and broken pedal-tractor

that grazes on the over-grown grass

 

we stare down into the darkness

of the storm cellar

daring one another to descend

and wait for our mother to retrieve us

But a Witch

So Ka-hoot is this thing that caught on big-time at our school this year.  Using their i pads (or phones or whatever) students can take a review quiz while competing with each other and see the results up on the big screen at the front of the room. They get into it; it gets very competitive.  One thing that ka-hoot allows students to do is log in with any nickname they can think of.  Some of them get pretty clever.

This class like to log in using someone else’s name. I do have a Colton in this class.  But I’m pretty sure none of those are him.

colton

In this class we were reviewing for a test over The Crucible, the Aurthur Miller play about the Salem witch hunts.  They almost made this work, and I definitely give them props for trying.

butawitch

Stop the Water Bandit

stopthewaterbandit

My brother and I used to have a great time during bath time. We’d sit and visit and play with the water and bubbles, mixing up recipes, guiding G.I. Joe in the wrestling of white tigers and giant eels, and splashing and dumping water on each other. But the best, and as I recall we could only do this when the folks weren’t playing very close attention to us, was when one of us would scoot down as near the drain and faucet as possible, while the other would prop his butt up to where the wall met the tub. Then he’d pull up his feet and drop like a bomb, sliding down the end of the tub into the water, smacking into his brother at the other end. Giggles would follow. The big wave that this would create might inspire us to slide back and forth in unison in an attempt to create a giant wave that would splash up the wall on one end of the tub and then the other. It’s possible that something like this was going on when my brother and I managed to splash enough water out of the tub to leak through the floor, causing a line to form on the living room ceiling, a line that my mom still points to occasionally when my brother and I are visiting and maybe complaining about the behavior of our own children. Good time. Good times.

Sgt. Rock #382

sgtrock

Sgt. Rock #382,November 1983.  The feature story was written by Robert Kanigher; the artist is Dan Spiegle. I haven’t read a lot of Sgt. Rock comics, so maybe this is typical.  But this book seems like the editors said, “We don’t have a story for this month? Well, see what bits and pieces we have lying around and let’s put something together!”  The cover is totally cool.  But in the meantime . . .

The feature story, which is just a few pages long involves the men of Easy Company taking a city from the Nazis which has been impenetrable to all of the other U.S. soldiers who have tried.  Maybe it’s because Easy Company is a cross section of America. There’s a an Irishman, a Native American, an African American, a guy with glasses, a really big guy with a beard, etc.  Plus, Easy used a bazooka to blast through the barricade, something none of the other groups had thought of.  After blowing up the barricade and all of the snipers who were hiding behind it, they make quick business of the few remaining soldiers in the town. Finally they overpower a group of children led by a bloodthirsty fanatical teen Nazi (my new favorite band), forcing them to surrender. That’s the crazed teen on the cover. The story ends with him dying and the rest of the kids as POWs. And then this cryptic comment.

wwiii

I have no idea what that means.

There are five, count ’em, five other short pieces in this book.  One of them is a story about the Native American soldier, Little Sure Shot, saving some civilians from the Nazis while earning the right to wear a shorter feather on his helmet.  The best part of this story is the opening when Little Sure Shot is playing with a grenade and thinking about what his ancestors could have done if they’d had such a thing 500 years ago.

bellylaugh

Of the other four pieces, one is a single page joke, the art and the joke being not quite the standards of Family Circus. You can hear the trombone Waaa waaaa-ing after the punch line.  The other three are labeled “Battle Album.” One double page spread gives a short history of the Native American Ghost Dance and the resulting slaughter of women and children at Wounded Knee. Another two-page spread gives a brief history of the mercenary wars in Europe in the 1600’s that resulted in the death tens of thousands.  “The mercenary knights fought and killed not for honor . . . or home . . . or country! Only for money!” (Today’s discussion question–Have people ever really fought for anything else?)  The last Battle Album is a single page about how cool the F-111 fighter plane is.

Sgt. Rock is an interesting book tonally. The theme throughout seems to be that war is really terrible,

bad

but also really cool at the same time.

cool

I think that’s a theme that is difficult for an artist to avoid when dealing with war in a thoughtful way. Movies, like Apocalypse Down or Full Metal Jacket, for example, movies that the film makers set out to make as anti-war, are often embraced by soldiers as inspiring rather than challenging. That probably speaks to how people resist challenges to important and strongly held beliefs.  But it also is about how big machines, and big guns, and big explosions, and big men are cool.  Sgt. Rock is not a mindless Kill-Em-All–America-Rules! book.  It knows war is terrible.  But it’s a comic book.  And it’s entertainment. And just as the characters  of Sgt. Rock and Easy Company are pretty cool and bad-ass, it seems like war might be that way some too.

One bazooka up.

judomaster96

judomasterJudomaster #96 is a 1978 reprint originally published in 1967.  No artist or writer are given for the Judomaster story, but the Sarge Steel story is attributed to Steve Skeates with art by Dick Giordano.  Judomaster takes place during World War II, I think.  I’m not sure what the military significance of the Judomaster’s secret island is, but there seems to be some because the “imperial warlords” (that could be WWII, right?) are investing a lot of resources to know what’s happening there. Eventually the island is discovered by the Japanese, a word that never appears in this book, although it would have been a welcome alternative to the constant use of Jap. In fact the Japanese have seemingly recruited none other than Judomaster’s girl, Suzi, to feed them secret information. This results in some bad guys storming the island, and a big martial arts showdown between Judomaster and his arch-rival, The Acrobat. The fight, which takes place in the ocean and on land, and lasts for several pages, is pretty fun.  It’s also informative, explaining judo moves (I have no idea how accurately) throughout.

shimewaza

The fight ends with the dramatic unmasking of The Acrobat.  In the last panel, Judomaster holds Suzi’s face in his hands, and tells her.

butinthemeantime

“But in the meantime . . .” seems to me to indicate an amazing judo-style make out session is about to go down. Good for them.

So seriously, was the use of jap still a thing to print in comic books in the 70s or even the 60s?  I knew one guy who used that term, but he was old and had fought against them in the war. I didn’t count the number of times the word was used in this book, but if I’d taken a shot every time it occurred, I’d have never made it to the end of the story. So that was a little off-putting.  Also, and I won’t make a big deal of this because the story is almost 50 years old, Judomaster is a white man, leading the good brown men against the bad brown men, and then colonizing a brown woman at the end of the story.  But what do you expect for 35 cents in 1978?

How about a hard boiled detective with a left hand made of (I presume) steel. It was this story that made me double check the copyright date, as at one point Sarge Steel is lead at gunpoint into “a print shop . . . Where they put together those thin volumes of beat poetry!” Still a bit dated for ’67. Anyway, the story is fine–I like a hard boiled detective–if a bit rushed. The thing is, if your hero has a steel hand, let’s break that bad boy out! Sarge only uses it once, to block a bullet.

clang

He even brags at one point that the bad guy is so weak that he doesn’t need to use “the heavy one” when he punches him in the stomach.  Booooo!  In the end, Sarge Steel gets a little cuddling as well.

snuggle

With the caveats of too much racism and not enough steel fist smashing, Judomaster #96 gets two judo chops up.

The Power of Self Control

This was from just before American Independence Day of last year.

I’ve said before that One of the nice things about doing these communion meditations every so often is that it kind of forces me to pay attention to what god’s up to, at least in the days leading up to me putting one of these together.  But then there’s the weeks that are so busy, so crammed full, that it seems there’s not time to notice god at work.  I think god takes these weeks into account and then sort of hits you over the head with something.  Although I’ve become pretty good at not noticing being hit over the head as well.  But I noticed this time.

The other evening I was twisting some balloons at a VBS party.  And at this party, in order for the kids to get tickets to play games and such, they had to say this, or at least some of this: “God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.”  Paul wrote this to Timothy at a time when Paul was going through some tough times for his faith, and anticipated that Timothy would as well.  Prison-and-beatings tough times, not she-told-me-happy-holidays-instead-of-merry-christmas hard times.  So Paul and the early Christians, and even present day Christians in many parts of the world, but not the U.S.A., have reason to fear, and need to be reminded not to fear.  But  I want us to think about the last part of that verse.  We have been given the spirit of power, and love, and self-control.

So, as we celebrate our freedoms this week, I want us to remember these words of Peter Parker (The Amazing Spider Man)’s Uncle Ben:  “With great power, comes great responsibility.”  It is not only our responsibility to love, and to exercise self control, god gives us the power to do it..

We can love fearlessly and extravagantly.  We can love those who are near us, and those who are miles away.  We can love those people we don’t like.  We can love those people nobody likes.  We can love our enemies.  We can love the people we hate.  We know we should do this, but god actually gives us the power to do so.

And self control.  If we have reason to fear anything in this country, it’s excess.  But Paul says god gives us the power of self control, with the intent, I suspect, that we use it.  So, let’s not eat too much, or drink too much, or relax too much, or spend too much, or drive too much, or talk too much, or do too much.  Let’s appreciate all we have with the spirit of self control.  As we take the bread and the cup, let us remember Christ, our example.  Let us live simply and selflessly.  Let us appreciate our freedoms this week, and then use them to live and love quietly and humbly and powerfully.

Amen