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Showing posts from August, 2015

Is God Good? Choose This Day Whom You Shall Serve

A sermon preached August 23, 2015 The Rev. John Ohmer, Rector,  The Falls Church Episcopal
Joshua 24:1-2a,14-18 Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: "Now therefore revere the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. Now if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." Then the people answered, "Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; for it is the LORD our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt…

Grief and the Upside-Down Shovel

Thank you, all, for your cards and notes and calls the last week as Mary and I dropped off our daughter Elizabeth last Friday for her first year in college and then immediately drove to Indiana for my sister Kathy's funeral on Saturday.

Between Wednesday of last week and Sunday night, we drove just under 2,000 miles, crossing nine different state lines. We went through at least as many states of mind, from "pride and joy" to "heartache goodbye at bittersweet parting" to "grief-for-the-dying" to "appreciation for, and celebration of, life." Not to mention all the inherent joys and stresses of a de facto family reunion - I was able to catch up not only with my three older brothers and my sisters-in-law, but with nieces and nephews I haven't seen in years, and was able to visit with - in some cases for the first time -- their spouses/girlfriends/boyfriends and children.

Just as was the case at my dad's funeral in 2001, and my niece…

Prayers, please...

Today, something a bit unusual - I ask for your prayers. My sister Kathy was diagnosed with cancer about nine months ago, and things took a turn for the worse about a month ago.

On Saturday, I talked to my sister's hospice nurse, who told us she had "hours or days" instead of "weeks or months" as we'd all been thinking, and thankfully, I was able, due to the generosity of a parishioner who gave me a companion ticket, to quickly fly out to Indianapolis Sunday almost immediately after church. I was able to spend good time with her Sunday evening and Monday afternoon, and even have some conversations with her, and even to pray "last rites" over her/with her.

Kathy died late Monday night/early yesterday morning, peacefully, with her husband Doug and my nephews and my niece by her side.

She (the oldest of my four siblings) was only 65, so there is an element of shock and tragedy in this - especially since this is the same family who lost their oldest da…

Zen and the Art of Traffic

Yesterday, we moved to the city of Falls Church. That means that last week, my three years of driving 40+ miles each way (8,000+ miles a year just in getting back and forth from Leesburg to Falls Church!) have ENDED. I'm grateful to the vestry (church governing board) and my work colleagues who have been flexible and understanding the past three years.
To celebrate the end of commuting -- with apologies to Robert Persig, and to real Zen practitioners, and to people who have even longer and worse commutes which they are still doing -- today I thought I'd offer a lighthearted list of...
My Top Insights Gained from Commuting, or...
Zen and the Art of Traffic: 
Insight #1) Just Like in Politics, if you Want Peace of Mind, Avoid the Far Right and the Far Left.  If you're driving on a multi-lane highway, avoid the far right and the far left lanes -- that's where most of the crazy, unpredictable, and even dangerous stuff happens. In traffic (and politics) I prefer to stick to the…