Friday, December 19, 2008


Further in the hijinks of soon to be former church.......

This past summer Wonderboy and I would pick my mom up on Sunday and she would join us at worship at church. Three times over the course of the summer she filled out a visitor card with her name, address and telephone number and dropped it into the collection plate.

Up until this week she had never heard from anyone.

When we all attended the program this past fall given by Wonderboy's choir directors and his choir, one of the elders stood up to talk about the volunteer expo. He shared that he and his wife decided to come to this church because of the wonderful welcome they received after they filled out their visitor card. The kind and caring telephone call, he went on, caused them to feel all warm and fuzzy about this church and that's why they joined. Then he stated that every single visitor card was responded to and that's what makes this church so great. The warm welcome that everyone who comes here receives.

Yesterday, at long last, my mother finally received two warm and caring responses in the mail.

One was an invitation to a dinner to be held at a posh country club near the Rose Bowl. There she could reunite with her fellow new member classmates and share her experiences of the church. She would also have the opportunity to visit again with the associate pastor who held the classes.

The other was a letter from the head pastor thanking her for her pledge commitment this year. He noted that the budget of 2.4 million this year had not been met, and that they needed 1.1 million in, oh I forget now, I think she said it was the next few months. He said, in the letter, that he is hoping the members will double their gifts next year and to please fill out the enclosed pledge card and return it.

There are interesting facts to note about all this:

~My mother never attended any new member class at this church and did not join
~My mother never made or gave any pledge or tithe to this church

And the most interesting fact of all:

Both these mailings were addressed to my mother's correct last name and address. But to Mr. JIM ----------. She is most definitely not a Jim and my deceased father was a Ralph.


Thursday, December 18, 2008


Another entry in the saga of my soon to be former church's drama drama. This one turns it into a comedy.

Two weeks ago Wonderboy performed with his church choir at the annual Christmas concert. The adult choir, handbells and praise band performed twice, first with the younger children's choir, then later with Wonderboy's choir.

And the new drama group introduced their wares to the congregation for the first time.

Before the performance I had run into a friend of mine from the adult choir. She was one of my actors when I produced drama at this church. I learned from her that this group provides "free" chancel dramas in exchange for rehearsal and performance space. A quid pro quo arrangement. She also told me that in order to join this theater group in any capacity, one must pay monthly membership dues. Remember this part. You will find it interesting later on. She also said that she would be interested to hear what I thought after the performance.

First I will dispassionately tell you the choice of material. They enacted two pieces of scripture. One was Mary meeting her cousin Elizabeth. The other was Elizabeth and Zechariah.

Next I will say the good things that I can about their performance. "They were clothed. "

Now I will say what I would have said if asked my opinion. "I am certainly not in their league.", "Never in my entire life could I produce anything of this quality.", and "Words fail me."

During the first piece with Mary and Elizabeth, the woman portraying Mary would recite a piece of scripture, (always facing the congregation and never relating to her fellow actor) then stop for long enough to wonder if she was all finished, then start again. I found it an interesting choice to portray Mary as a narcoleptic. The woman portraying Elizabeth did the Celine Dion chest thump on her belly when saying "the baby leapt in my womb.....", which in real life would have likely rendered John the Baptist deaf as a post. When Mary was speaking without relating to Elizabeth, Elizabeth plastered a frozen look of rapture on her face. We used to call this "mugging".

The second piece's where words fail me. Zechariah and Elizabeth re-entered with Elizabeth now carrying what looked like a football wrapped in a blanket. She wore the same plastered look of rapture. The actor portraying Zechariah started in strong with his first sentence. Then stopped cold. After a couple, er, ums, hehs, he would paw at the "baby's" blanket, obviously looking for lines that must have been hidden in there. Elizabeth's rapturous mug started to look strained the 4th or 5th time Zechariah pawed at the "baby" for his words. After awhile it kinda looked like he might be drunk. I had to cover my face, it was too painful to watch. It was the kind of awful bad that makes you feel sorry for the actors and want to go up, take them by the hand and lead them offstage with "Oh, honey, you need to stop before you hurt yourself any more." In Covenant Players we called this kind of really bad scripture enactment "bathrobe drama."

During this debacle my mom leaned over to me and said "I thought they were supposed to be pros?" She and I whispered some choice comments back and forth.

At the end of the program the director of this group was introduced as "our colleague." He is a man of remarkable girth. In a church consisting of mostly conservative families and older folks he has chosen a costume of black jeans, black long-sleeved t-shirt and a black beret to cover his bald pate. The only other color were his athletic shoes. They were white. Once. Very "artsy."

When the program was over and we stood to leave, who do you imagine was sitting right behind us? That's right, the head pastor and his wife. My mom said she hoped they heard her comments. God bless her!

The kids were wonderful. I pray that next year we'll find ourselves in a church that will inspire an inversely proportional mention of wonderful to "Egad".

The next day, while at Trader Joe's, I ran into another friend from this church. She had not attended the performance but told me she had heard plenty about the drama and how wretched it was.

As a curious P.S. a few days later my mom and I were visiting a local business we enjoy. The proprietor there knows most of what happens in this small burb of L.A. She said she knew of a woman who works as a T.V. anchor at a local T.V. station who this very drama group is always calling asking to perform with them in the church. She does not have to pay the dues to join them. In fact, they would have to pay her to perform with them.

I considered this an early Christmas present from Jesus. I will now exit this place laughing as I shake the dust from my feet.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


(copyright Zina Saunders 2008)

You all know who this guy is and the naughty naughty things he "allegedly" did that have him now cooling his heels in the pokey. I sure hope he looks good in stripes. As I hear it, Santa is "allegedly" leaving him coal in his subpoenas and skipping his Christmas stocking altogether!!

This wonderful illustration was created by the artist, Zina Saunders. For a very funny review of the election and other great illustrations and paintings, visit her website. I have been enjoying her art work for a while now since.....once again.....hold your applause....Dave P. introduced her. That man should have a blog in addition to his website!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I have seen this around the bloggy world, then finally watched it when my friend, Dave P. sent it out this morning to his friends. Figured I was meant to see it. And I was. It's a wonderful piece!

It's amazing what the new technology enables more of us to do. So cool.

Monday, December 01, 2008


For Advent, today's Psalm is #24

"To the Lord belong the earth and everything in it,
the world and all its inhabitants. 
For it was he who founded it on the seas and 
planted it firm on the waters beneath.

Who may go up the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
One who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who has not set his mind on what is false or sworn deceitfully.
Such a one shall receive blessing from the Lord,
and be vindicated by God his saviour.
Such is the fortune of those who seek him,
who seek the presence of the God of Jacob.

Lift up your heads, you gates,
lift yourselves up, you everlasting doors,
that the king of glory may come in.
Who is this king of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, you gates,
lift them up, you everlasting doors,
that the king of glory may come in.
Who is he, this king of glory?
The Lord of Hosts, he is the king of glory."
(from the Oxford Study Bible)

This Psalm seems perfect for the beginning of Advent. Who exactly is it who is coming? And, where do we fit in his holy place? Do we fit? 

I imagine us as being the gates and the doors. Let's get busy!!

It's not an official Christmas song, but I'm making it one today.....