Friday, May 20, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Expect

Another Five Minute Friday Fantastic Free write; Kate Motaung hosts again with this week's expect prompt.


If you've followed my blog, you might remember I've mentioned that in Spanish hope and expect are the same word—espero and its variations. "Espero" also means wait! Sample sentence:

• I waited for her with rekindled hope because I expected her to arrive before long.

• Esperé con la esperanza reavivada porque esperaba que llegara después de poco tempo.

This time I slowly and carefully wrote by hand to three different yet related topics, thus not a very high work count.


future milkweed home future milkweed home

Picture from yesterday, Thursday, of parking lot planter boxes getting ready for new garden soil and milkweed seeds. We expect to prepare soil and plant seeds tomorrow, Saturday, or the following day, Sunday; after that we'll wait with high hopes!

1. Jesus told his followers to wait in Jerusalem! Because they had experienced the risen Christ, they embodied resurrection hope and in the power of the HS of Pentecost could expect their testimony to bear fruit.

2. We hope monarchs will multiply and start to thrive, so we'll plant milkweed, wait for the plants to grow, and expect butterflies to visit.

3. Too often I've expected more months and years of the same old same ole—such a sad yet typical case of practical atheism! I fully hope in the risen Christ, yet need to remember God often has people wait a very long time between call and fulfillment—to help us realize it's God's action, not ours?


I usually feel a bit uneasy when anyone talks about their future daughter-in-law, future place of residence, future anything. But doesn't speaking about a person, place, or event with the prefix "future" indicate tremendous hope and expectation? And trust?

five minute friday expect five minute friday button

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Three Word Wednesday: Adoption

Jeremiah 22:6

Today in her Three Word Wednesday Kristin Hill Taylor writes about Supporting Foster Families {and looking after orphans}. I've mentioned I like the discipline, the ease, and the appeal to creativity in using Kristin's prompt, though we can write to any trio of words. Kristin provided a graphic of James 1:27 that prompts us to help care for the needy, the vulnerable, the marginalized. During the era when James wrote his letter, humans who had no responsibly employed male to care for them existed in a particularly precarious situation. The reformer and theologian of grace Martin Luther famously did not like James' epistle, believed it did not belong in the canon, and included it in a group of seven NT books he considered antilegomena – spoken against – pretty much in the category of "leftovers."

Jesus tells us "To be saved? Keep the commandments. Keep covenant with all creation."

Churches since the protestant reformation have made a huge deal of our salvation by grace through faith in the atoning life and work of Jesus Christ. There tends to be a general feeling that Roman Catholics and Latter-day Saints emphasize good works more than most protestants do, yet when we glance across the map we find hospitals with names like Lutheran General and Presbyterian Central, (alongside RC and LDS) mainline protestant church-sponsored humanitarian organizations and missions and countless church-related colleges and universities that all help resurrect people from certain death into abounding life. Kristin's selected scripture from James correlates perfectly with one of my own faves from the prophet Jeremiah's speaking truth to power, in this case to King Josiah's son King Jehoahaz.
Jeremiah 22:15-16

"…Did not your father eat and drink
And do justice and righteousness?
Then it was well with him.
He plead the cause of the afflicted and needy;
Then it was well
Is not that what it means to know me?"
Declares the LORD.
Supporting Foster Families comes under the general categories of families and adoption. The nuclear family that in many ways is a late 19th century development is not at all prominent in the bible, yet (maybe in place of the conventional nuclear family?) the New Testament brings us Jesus of Nazareth who creates families where there were none:

• For whoever shall do the will of my Father who is in the heavens, he is my brother and sister and mother. Matthew 12:50

• And he answered and said unto them, my mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it. Luke 8:21

For last Sunday, the Day of Pentecost, the second RCL reading was from the apostle Paul's epistle to the Romans that tells us God claims us as family, chooses all of us to receive a divine inheritance!
Romans 8:14-17

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
Saul/Paul came from a Jewish background that celebrated the good news of liberation from death and slavery in the exodus from Egypt; as Christians we celebrate the gospeled good news of the freedom from slavery and death in Jesus Christ. The Spirit of resurrection God bestows in baptism is the creative Spirit of life that brooded over the unordered chaos at the dawn of creation.

To become adopted children of God means to live literally revolutionized (turned around) relationships in the new community resurrection creates. A long time ago I'd just checked into the hostel in Lübeck; only two of us were in the bunk room, so we began talking. The other traveler announced she knew her parents wanted her because she was adopted! She then told me about the tremendous confidence and freedom being chosen and brought into their family as a daughter gave her. Does our adoption into God's family in Christ Jesus give us confidence and freedom? Does our belonging to the people of God liberate us to answer God's call to care for the needy, vulnerable, and the afflicted? Will we plead the cause of planet earth that has become exceedingly needy, afflicted, and fragile, mostly as a result of human neglect, violence, and complacency? Let's do it!

JAmes 1:27
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Friday, May 13, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Grow

Five Minute Friday―you know the drill: simply write without edits for approx five minutes. Kate Motaung hosts with this week's grow prompt.

watertown house


Given that I frequently tell people desert spirit's fire! is my "more formal" theology blog, defaulting into a discussion of the upcoming liturgically mostly green Ordinary Time Season of the Church would be my typical reflection on grow—we often equate the color green with the concept of growth. I've taken many dozens of photos featuring greenery―probably captured several hundred, including a verdant group near the beach this past Tuesday. But today for grow I'm considering the tracks I've made, trails I've trekked over the past two decades, the highly unexpected turns and trajectories. Maybe you've heard if a person isn't growing and changing they're dying? Maybe they've already died? I also claimed this topic as a reason to use a trio of illustrations of the house I lived in my last year in seminary; in fact, the header picture is very very spring green with promises of a whole lot of future growth.

FMF: grow

watertown houseLife happens. You've probably heard that life is what happens while you're making plans? But two decades later, I still cannot fathom how someone as friendly and sociable and outgoing and considerate as I am, as smart, hart-working, and creative as I've been still has not found a settled place and an ongoing purpose amongst those of similar bent and background. But that answer isn't quite right. This is about growth, so in the years since the house in my illustrations, how have I grown in intellectual, social, spiritual, and creative ways despite everything and maybe because of everything? Or have I grown? Oh yes, I have!

I look back to my interview weekends in Previous City. I totally wowed those people, yet that person who on paper was me (same stats, etc.) could not begin to approach the abilities I have today as theologian, artist-designer, performing musician. But maybe more importantly, that person who apparently (yep, of course my appearance has changed over those years) was me could not begin to approach my patience and understanding with people and their insecurities, their brokenness, their self-protection. Could not remotely approach my level of trust in the God of great surprises, whose final answer always is resurrection from death.

five minute friday grow watertown house five minute friday button

Friday, May 06, 2016

three word wednesday: Choosing JOY!

Time's a-wasting to officially be part of this week's Three Word Wednesday, so I'm ready to write to Kristin's Choose JOY! To help celebrate her birthday, this week Kristin chose to Choose 37 Joys. I won't count that high; instead I've chosen a more manageable four because of four elements, four directions, and because "People will come from the east, and the west, the north, and the south, and feast at the banquet in the kingdom of God." Luke 13:29


1. My header image illustrates one of my main joys—design, drawing, illustration, art... It's from a very varied 1 Peter – 2 Peter series I did, with no attempt for any consistency in style, size, media, or any design aspect.

2. I love teaching! Art, music, design, theology, so my Sunday mornings are super-joy-filled. Besides the Word and Sacrament hour that always sustains me for the week, I teach the adult SS class.

3. Summer. Always summer? Almost always. For close to a dozen years instead of not wanting summer to end I couldn't wait for autumn to begin, but recently my attitude of estival joy's returned in full.

4. All Creation! Nature, Wildlife, Gardens, Beaches, Cities—the natural, tended, built, and fabricated environments where we live and work and play. These are arenas of God's presence and grace that God calls us to care for and steward.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

April Highlights

End of another month and it's time for Emily P Freeman's what we learned, experienced, remembered, etc., linkup.

April 2016 synopsis
• background image all rights reserved by PremiumCoding; typography from my suntreeriver design identity.

union bank red rose union bank red rose union bank red rose
• What. A. Surprise.—I looked up and there was a huge Union Bank Red Rose on Wilshire @ Westwood! I got some good shots at several angles; here's a trio.

west hollywood garden
• What better place than the apt complex garden for breakfast, sketching, dinner, conversation, or writing?

houses on Gardner Street
• No surprise, not a learning at all—I'm still loving local architecture of every imaginable kind.

Earth Day at LCM
• These critters visited church on Earth Day ♥ ♥ #Trees4Earth!

• In SS we've been having some excellent, thoughtful discussions about stewarding creation via the RCL Revelation pericopes, with one more to go for Easter 6, a semi-recap on Easter 7.

• I've been loving some Mediterranean breakfasts for some lunches.

Russian Festival
• I'm including the banner announcement for the new to me upcoming Russian Arts & Culture Festival; next month I'll feature festival photographs.

Route 66 sign
• So Route 66 is right here and right now? Well, yep, it ends a few miles down the road in Santa Monica.

• Hollywood Bowl Street Banners are out again. Summer! Summer! Summer!

• Such a privilege to be serving on the judicatory's new Green Faith Team. "Team" sounds as if we just may accomplish more than a group named committee might? Ya think so?

• No illustration this month, but I'm still learning to respond to and titrate my need for sleep. I kind of am a super sleeper who doesn't need a whole lot of sleep most of the time, but not needing much is way far different from assuming I can be alive and functional with not enough.

emily P Freeman April Button

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Pass

Time for Five Minute Friday! Time to write unedited for five minutes—more or less. Kate Motaung hosts again with this week's pass prompt.

5 Wellesley Park porch
Pass is another word with multiple meanings, another that doubles as noun and as verb. When you group layers together in Photoshop, they default to pass through blending mode that applies the same layer style to every single layer rather than only one. That type of pass isn't all that different from taking a route through a mountain pass. Not hugely distinctive from sliding alongside the vehicle in front of you by passing it to get past it so it ends up behind you. Someone offers you food that doesn't interest you or an opportunity you're not ready for? I'll take a pass on crustaceans—I'm deathly allergic to them, but in the interest of politeness, I always pass on saying much about it.

We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. 1 John 3:14

Let's not pass on that one!

Every one of these instances of "pass" moves – literally passes – from one state of being or doing into a different one.

five minute friday pass five minute friday button

Sunday, April 24, 2016

#trees4earth • #earthday2016

earth day 2016 trees4earth

My class notes on urban wilderness from Earth Day 2016 | Easter 5 for this morning.


Every day is Earth Day, but on Friday 22 April we celebrated the 46th official formal Earth Day. The Earth Day theme this year is #Trees4Earth that relates closely to #FaceofClimate for 2013 and #GreenCities for both 2014 and 2015. Trees and forests are earth's respiratory system, this planet's lungs.

from "Let us Talents and Tongue Employ"

Jesus lives again
earth can breath again
pass the word around
loaves abound!

Fred Kaan, 1975
For Easter 5 and Earth Day we mainly discussed Revelation 21:1-6, and also considered creation-themed Psalm 96, Psalm 98, and Psalm148, as well as the beginning of James Weldon Johnson's poem, The Creation. All this poetry is about a God so in love with Creation that God chooses to make a home on earth in the midst of creation.

Sacraments depend upon a healthy creation.

Very briefly from last week: the book of Revelation shows us how empires everywhere operate; it provides not quite a road map, but at least a guide book for living baptized in the context of empire. This week and next week the passages from Revelation especially show us ways to live baptized into the new creation.

More discussion of how physical, earthbound, and incarnational Christianity is. God so in love with creation God chose and still chooses to make a home on earth in a body formed from the stuff of creation.