Christmas Day Photos

Not that much snow last night, but the wind is working its art in the backyard.

I love the winter light in late afternoon here.

A weeping angel visits Jesus.
Christmas breakfast detritus.


Christmas Poem, 2013

“Tell them I feel at home,” my youngest says, when a friend asks how we 
are. We have moved again, his third home, if you don’t count time in 
utero, fifth for my eldest, counting the orphanage. They are adjusting 
well. It is Christmas, and I finally found the creche, a crumbling stable my 
dad built filled with plastic figures, in a box at the bottom of a closet. 
Baby Jesus and friends were tossed in with a rainbow of wrapping paper 
and ribbons, protection for the move. One of the wise men is missing, 
there are two bagpipers, and I suspect Joseph is really a shepherd. To be 
honest, baby Jesus is gigantic, because he was lost four houses ago, when 
the eldest took to playing with him, and I couldn’t find another the right 
size. Poor Mary. They were always on the move, too, led by dreams to one 
city after another. He said something, once, about not having anyplace to 
call home. Is that what I will leave my sons? I go outside, past the naked 
arms of maple and oak, through the gap in the fence and lift my head, 
just as I did as a girl, still delighted by stars and the great expanse of sky. 

– Michelle M. Hargrave, 2013


Christmas Poem, 2012 , reprise

This year's poem will be here tomorrow, but I looked at last year's again. I had no idea, really, when I wrote this last Christmas that we would be moving, yet here I was writing about how much I would miss Christmas Eve, especially singing "Night of Silence/Silent Night" at Fairmount Avenue when I was no longer there. And here we are, getting ready for Christmas Eve at a new church. I'm still working on some of these ideas, as will be evident with 2013's version of the Christmas Poem (I have about 30 of them by now.) Exile and home are major themes in the Old Testament, Walter Bruggemann says, and they are for me, itinerant clergy, as well.

The last time I was home for Christmas service after
grilled cheese with my sisters which we always had 
(though Mom and Dad had oyster soup which was 
traditional), I mean the early service where Martha 
sang "O Holy Night" accompanied on Daisy's piano 
which I used to dust each week and where we all lit 
candles and sang at the end wondering if the lights 
were really going to go out like they were supposed to 
not like that one year when the front spot never did, 
when I hugged my old Sunday School teachers and 
lingered with classmates, I knew it would be my last. 

Now after my husband makes soup for me and the 
boys eat pizza I go next door to the church, not the 
last one that had only one service nor the one before 
where once we had five services in one day, but this one, 
where someone does "O Holy Night" accompanied 
on a piano whose beloved owner I did not know, 
where I still worry about whether the lights will go out 
at the end like they are supposed to so we can light 
candles when we sing the new version of Silent Night, 
which, like Daisy's piano and all the teachers and 
classmates who are gone now, I will miss the rest of my life.

– Michelle M. Hargrave, 2012

Stars and Sun Dogs

A view from the roof of the church and Hwy 169 South.


Palimpsest: Family Tree and Family Ties

James Tissot

Family Tree and Family Ties

Matthew 1:18-25


The longest begetting streak is at the beginning of the book of Matthew. It starts with Abraham and ends with Joseph, the father of Jesus. This is puzzling, not just because the Bible is keeping track of people's sex lives, but because it includes Joseph at all. The supposed intention of the passage is to link Jesus, son of Joseph, to Abraham, father of the people of Israel, and yet the entire point of Jesus is that he is God's son by the virgin Mary. Joseph had nothing, biologically, to do with it. If anything, the Bible should be linking Mary with Abraham, and leaving Joseph out of it. Why the many listed begettings?  - io9.com

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.
– Matthew 1:1-16

My husband’s voice comes down the hall
like a lullaby :
“It’s OK, Daddy’s here,
Daddy’s gonna fix it.
Don’t you fuss, Daddy’s here,
Daddy’ll make it all better.”
The cries gently subside.

He is like this with both sons,
patient, protective,
offering all he has of history and hope.

Turns out you don’t need the bond of blood,
ownership of conception,
to be a parent.
You just need the yes
to the one placed before you.
- Michelle Hargrave, Reflections on Joseph, Jesus’ Father, at 1 a.m., 2004

· Why is this genealogy of Jesus written the way it is? What does it tell us about Jesus, about Joseph? What questions does it raise?
· How significant is your own family tree? What does it tell you?
· How are you being called to say “yes” to Jesus this Christmas?


Advent photo-a-day, first week

Rethinkchurch is hosting an Advent photo-a-day event on twitter. There was one for Lent this last year but I had just discovered we were moving and couldn't focus (pun intended) enough to manage it. But my colleague at church has been encouraging people to try it, and I've managed the first week of Advent, so here they are. Check out #rethinkchurch #rethinkchristmas for other folks' renderings.

It is lovely to see how people interpret the same word in so many different ways, and also a great challenge to take a photo a day. Some days I take none; some days I take 200. I like getting up in the morning to ponder my word.

The first day was "go". I took a cell phone photo of a Go game. Need to figure out how to post it here.

Bound. The top book is Whittier's poetry, dated 1902, a gift from Ethel Olson down the street when I was nine.

Peace. An origami crane from a woman at church my very first week.

Time. A clock in Edinburgh, Scotland, 2012.

Flood. A flooded Root River in Lanesboro, MN, June 2013.

Awake. Theo.

Ready. Ready for worship.


Palimpsest: 2nd Sunday of Advent

A Signal to the Peoples

Isaiah 11:1-11


Seated majestically in the lantern, the Parisian-manufactured Second Order Fresnel lens was of "bi-valve" design, so called due to its resemblance to a mollusk shell. Consisting of two large panels made up of 7 refracting prisms and 13 reflecting prisms each, the entire assembly floated on a bed of liquid mercury to minimize rotational friction. A clockwork mechanism once every 20 seconds, providing the station’s planned characteristic of a single white flash every 10 seconds. The lens was illuminated by a 55-millimeter double tank incandescent oil vapor lamp, providing a remarkably bright light of 1,200,000 candlepower. By virtue of the tower’s location atop the cliff, the lens boasted an impressive 168-foot focal plane, and was visible for a distance of 22 miles in clear weather condition. -- www.terrypepper.com

When Fresnel first developed  his lens design in 1821, he relied upon metallic reflectors to capture and redirect light escaping above and below the lens panels. After his death in 1857, banks of reflecting glass prisms were substituted for the reflectors, because they absorbed less light and required less maintenance. Ultimately, a complete glass lens with central “drum” and upper and lower prisms transmitted 5/6 of the available lamp light, a considerable improvement over the 1/6 emission capability pre-1821 metallic reflector lights. As an additional improvement (along with greater visibility of the light as seen from the sea), the lamps constructed for these lenses consumed less fuel. --  Mabel A. Baiges, 1988, “Fresnel Orders”

At the close of chapter 5, God raised a signal for a nation far away to begin a work of judgment against the vineyard (5:26). Now the role of ensign is handed over to the root of Jesse. Rather than being assigned a task of judgment, the root of Jesse is to stand as an ensign of justice for the nations. -- Christopher R. Seitz, Interpretation: Isaiah 1-39

To survive you must return to your senses, touch taste smell sight sound. you must live as verbs not nouns, with each breath we inhale and exhale we inspire and expire, every breath has the possibility to cry or laugh a story or a song.  every conversation is an exchange of spirit, the words ride sweet or bitter over the tongue, remember that scars are monuments of battles survived.  When you're born into loss you grow from it, but when you experience a loss later in life you have to grow toward it. A slow move to an embrace, an embrace that leaves you holding tight.  The beauty wrapped in the grotesque,  an embrace that becomes a dance,  your new dance a dance home.  - Kevin Kling,  Scarecrow on Fire


· Have you ever seen a lighthouse light? How bright is it? Have you seen a lighthouse lens? What does it look like?
· How are you fashioned like a lens, to shine the light of Christ around you?
· How is our church fashioned like a lens, to shine the light of Christ around us?
· What stands as a signal of God’s presence and activity for you?